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What Are the Symptoms of Graves' Disease?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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There many potential symptoms of Graves’ disease, although not all will affect any one patient. Some examples include weight loss and profuse sweating. A person with the condition may also suffer from muscle degeneration and weakness. Symptoms of Graves’ disease can affect the heart, eyes, and other vital organs. Other symptoms include shortness of breath and diarrhea.

Graves’ disease is a condition resulting from an overactive thyroid gland. Many doctors think that it is an autoimmune disease that is caused by antibodies reacting with cells in the thyroid. It is a relatively common condition, especially among those between the age of 30 and 50, and requires careful management. The condition can affect most systems in the body, so symptoms of Graves' disease can vary widely.

Some of the most common symptoms of Graves’ disease include weight loss, excess sweating, and irritability. It can also cause women’s periods to become infrequent. People with Graves’ disease often suffer from some form of muscle weakness, especially in the arms and legs. Patients over the age of 40 are thought to be more likely to suffer from this symptom.

Other symptoms can affect the heart. Hypertension, which is high blood pressure, can be caused by Graves’ disease. A person with the condition may also experience an irregular heartbeat. A number of other heart symptoms may be present, such as thickening of a ventricle in the heart, but these are less common.

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Symptoms of Graves’ disease can also manifest in the eye. Some patients with the condition suffer from bulging eyeballs or eyelids that seem pulled back. Eye problems are thought to affect about one in every three persons with the condition. When the eye is more exposed to the environment, it can become irritated and may result in double vision. Managing eye problems can be difficult because the symptoms sometimes don’t disappear after hormone levels have returned to normal.

There are a vast number of other symptoms of Grave’s disease. A shortness of breath, for example, can affect some people with the condition. Other symptoms can include warm skin, intolerance to heat, diarrhea, brittle nails, and even liver disease.

In most cases, the condition can be managed by treatments that keep hormone levels within the normal range. Sometimes it may be necessary to remove a section of the thyroid gland. Eye problems related to symptoms of Graves' disease also need to be monitored and prevented when possible.

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Discuss this Article

hawaii2007
Post 4

I was recently diagnosed with graves disease. Is there a correlation between physical trauma and this disease? I was in a car accident in February and did not have any problems until after the accident.

SteamLouis
Post 3

@feruze-- Hi there. From what I know Graves' disease is only one of the causes of hyperthyroidism. So just because you have hyperthyroidism doesn't mean that you also have Graves' disease. You are right that some of the symptoms will be the same, all hyperthyroid illnesses share some similar symptoms like sweating and weight loss. But if you also have some of the problems described in the article about eyes and changes in your skin, you should get checked for Graves' disease.

What separates Graves' disease from the other causes of hyperthyroidism is the bulging eyes and thicker red skin and both of these usually happen together. Rarely though, people who have Graves' disease don't show these symptoms either. Just inquire with your doctor about your concern.

bear78
Post 2

How does one know whether they have Graves' disease or not?

I have an overactive thyroid and I do have some of the symptoms described here. But my doctor never mentioned anything about the cause and this is the first time I have heard of this disease.

Should I go back to the doctor?

serenesurface
Post 1

My coworker was recently diagnosed with this. Thankfully, she doesn't have any of the more serious symptoms. She knew something was wrong when she started to feel very hot all the time and would profusely sweat when she worked out.

What we noticed at work was that she was losing weight, she was hyperactive, couldn't stand still and started to speak very fast. Our office is usually freezing in the summer because they turn on the AC so high. We all wear sweaters in the office, but this coworker had to wear sleeveless tops, she was feeling that hot!

She said her periods were irregular too. Thankfully, she went to the doctor and they realized what the problems was. Now she's on thyroid medication and is doing much much better.

She just has to remember to take her medication. I think she takes them several times a day and it has to be very precise.

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