What Is Grave’s Disease?
You may have heard of Grave’s Disease or of hyperthyroidism, but you may be wondering exactly what they are and how they’re related, especially if your doctor thinks you might have them.
In fact, Grave’s Disease and hyperthyroidism are closely linked. Grave’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an overactive thyroid gland, a condition called hyperthyroidism.
Your thyroid gland is more important than you might realize: located just below your voice box, this organ releases the two hormones that control your body’s metabolism. When you think of metabolism, you might think of how quickly you burn calories, but the situation is more complex. Besides regulating your weight, metabolism also regulates mood, mental energy, and physical energy levels.
Grave’s disease causes your thyroid to make too much of the two hormones, thyroxine (also called T4) and triiodothyronine(T3), that control your metabolism and thus cause hyperthyroidism. The disease is the main cause of hyperthyroidism and is most common in women over the age of 20.
There are a wide range of symptoms that accompany Grave’s Disease, including
-Fatigue, muscle weakness, and double vision
-Weight loss, despite increased appetite.
-Rapid or irregular heartbeat,
-Irregular periods in women, increased breast tissue in men
– Nervousness and/or anxiety
One possible side effect of hyperthyroidism can be an enlarged thyroid gland, called a goiter. The goiter may feel simply like an enlarged nodule or maybe a larger lump in the neck.
If you have the above Grave’s disease symptoms, you should make an appointment with your doctor, who might recommend you to an endocrinologist. Endocrinologists work with conditions that specifically affect the endocrine system, including hyperthyroidism. They can assess your symptoms, run appropriate tests, and help you come up with a management plan for your condition.
Your endocrinologist will check the following:
· Your blood pressure
· Your T4 and TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels
· Radioactive Iodine Uptake
If it turns out that you have Grave’s disease, effective treatments are available. Your management plan for Grave’s disease will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend:
· Antithyroid hormones
· Surgery to remove the thyroid
· Radioactive Iodine
If you have surgery to remove the thyroid or radiation, your body will no longer be able to produce any thyroid hormone. To prevent hypothyroidism, you will need to take a particular type of medication, called a beta-blocker, for the remainder of your life to prevent hypothyroidism.
Sometimes it can take a while for your endocrinologist to help you find the right amount of antithyroid medication, or, in the case of surgery, the right amount of beta-blocker. Make sure that your endocrinologist is well certified and a good listener to ensure that your transition time is as short as possible.
Finding out you have Grave’s disease can be overwhelming and unsettling, but understanding your symptoms and seeking treatment can ensure a better health outlook for you. Take your time to find the best endocrinologist to treat your hyperthyroidism so that you can get better as soon as possible.