Understanding Graves’ Disease


What Is Graves’ Disease?


Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland. It is a condition where the body produces an antibody to fight against bacteria and viruses which then causes the thyroid to produce excessive hormones. Although it is still unknown as to what causes autoimmune disorders, Graves’ disease is found to be inherited. It commonly affects women than men and usually occurs before 40.


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What Happens When The Thyroid Gland Produces Excessive Hormones?


Most of us would want to speed up metabolism to prevent us from gaining weight, and in the condition of the overactivity of the thyroid gland, our metabolism speeds up causing unpleasant symptoms like:


  • Anxiety is a mental health issue where a person experiences nervousness, panic, trouble sleeping, rapid heartbeat, cold and sweaty extremities, and shortness of breath.


  • Hyperactivity is the condition of the body where it has too much energy. A hyperactive person may seem to not tire and could not stay still.


  • Weight Loss is also noticeable with no explainable reason. It is due to the boost in metabolism which contributes to unexplainable weight loss.


  • The swollen gland forms a lump in the thyroid commonly called goiter.


Where Did It Get Its Name?


Graves’ disease got its name after an Irish doctor named Robert J. Graves first noticed and described its symptoms on a patient in 1835. Five years later, a German doctor named Karl Adolph Van Basedow, unknowing of Graves’ findings, also gave the same description of the symptoms on his patient that’s why this disease is commonly known as Basedow’s disease in Europe while it’s called Graves’ disease in the United States.


What causes Graves’ Disease?


The cause of Graves’ disease is still a question just like with any other autoimmune disorders. Results of most studies about the condition connect it to family history, but then again, more studies are required to prove this theory.

What Are The Symptoms Of Graves’ Disease?


  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sweaty hands and feet
  • Swelling of the gland (goiter)
  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Erectile dysfunction or decreased libido
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Bulging eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Thick, red skin on the tops or shins of the feet
  • Palpitations or rapid heartbeat
  • Vision problems
  • Pressure in the eyes
  • Puffy eyelids
  • Reddened or inflamed eyes


What Are The Kinds Of Food To Avoid When A Person Has Graves’ Disease?


  • Food Allergens


When you have allergies to a particular food, avoid eating it. The symptoms of Graves’ disease can somehow be similar to that of allergies, so eating food that you’re allergic to can aggravate the symptoms.


  • Caffeine


Caffeine is known to cause nervousness and palpitations which are also symptoms of Graves’ disease. It is not wise to consume products that can contribute to the worsening of symptoms.


What Are The Kinds Of Food A Person With Graves’ Disease Should Eat?


  • Fruits And Vegetables


Fruits and vegetables are the primary food source of vitamins and minerals needed by the body to function well. Some of these foods, especially berries, have an antioxidant component that can strengthen the immune system. Although they cannot cure Graves’ disease, they will aid in giving the body extra strength and protection.


  • Protein-Rich Food


Fatigue or weakness is one of the symptoms of Graves’ disease. Eating foods rich in protein can help strengthen the muscles and gain more energy.


  • Food Rich In Vitamin D


Vitamin D is an essential vitamin needed by the bones. It works together with calcium to give proper nourishment to the body.


  • Dairy Products Such As Milk


Milk and cheese are examples of dairy products and are excellent sources of calcium, which work hand in hand with vitamin D to strengthen the bones.



Can Graves’ Disease Be Cured?


Yes, Graves’ disease is curable with some treatment methods.


Can Graves’ Disease Cause Death?


Yes, Graves’ disease if left untreated can cause severe heart problems and weakened bones. The body overall may weaken and eventually die.


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What Are The Treatments For Graves’ Disease?


When you’re diagnosed with Graves’ disease, you will be prescribed with antithyroid medications or may undergo radioactive iodine or removal of the thyroid. These treatments are effective in re-establishing the proper function of the thyroid gland, but there is a chance of relapse.


Graves’ disease is indeed a grave medical condition. Just like any disorder, it can affect how a person lives not only physically but psychologically as well. A person diagnosed with this condition may have to deal with it for a long time.


This disease can cause isolation and poor self-esteem because it can hinder a person from doing outdoor activities due to poor vision and visible manifestations physically, especially the eyes and skin. Though it is still unclear as to what causes Graves’ disease, observing a healthy lifestyle is always the key to being healthy. If you experience the symptoms above, don’t think twice. See a doctor.