Grave's disease is an autoimmune disease, i.e. a disease generated by the body in response to specific tissues or cells. In the case of Grave's disease, it is a self-aggression of the body against the thyroid gland. The consequence of this condition is a heavy production of thyroid hormones, causing an increase in the size of the gland and hyperthyroidism, i.e. increased levels of thyroid hormones in the body. Hyperthyroidism is a serious disease that can be associated with heart and eye disorders. The condition is more common in women than in men.
Grave's disease is characterized by:
- goiter in the neck, a sign of an increased thyroid
- severe fatigue;
- weight loss;
- feeling thirsty;
- nervousness, agitation;
- swollen, eyes that stick out of their sockets (called proptosis).
Grave's disease is detected by a blood test done in order to assess the amount of thyroid hormone and to detect the presence of an antibody. An HCP may also use imaging (ultrasound or Doppler), but especially a thyroid scintigraphy examination, to observe the uptake of iodine in the thyroid.
Three types of treatments exist. The first keeps the thyroid regular in its functioning, to relieve the patient and to avoid disturbances such as tachycardia which can cause severe heart failure. This treatment consists of medication and taking a synthesized antithyroid drug for a long time or even for life. In case of recidivism, the conservative treatment is extended, or it can be considered to use one of the other two types of treatment: removal of the thyroid by surgery, which is radical, but then requires taking hormones for life; the use of radioactive iodine, destroying part of the gland.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff