Yesterday’s blog showed a brief video of a patient with Graves’ eye disease. What exactly is this condition?
Graves’ disease is the most common cause of an overactive thyroid gland, affecting more women than men. The thyroid gland is located in the lower, central portion of the neck and produces a hormone than helps the cells of the body produce energy. In Graves’ disease, the body’s immune system attacks the gland, causing it to swell and produce too much thyroid hormone. As a result, the patient experiences a variety of symptoms including fatigue, weight loss, sweats, diarrhea, skin lesions, muscle weakness, tremor, fast heart rate, flushing and sometimes a bulging eye condition known as proptosis. Diagnosis of this condition is made through coupling the patient’s symptoms with an examination, blood work and a scan of the thyroid gland. Treatment is usually provided through the administration of radioactive iodine, which is picked up by the thyroid gland, selectively destroying a portion of it and thereby decreasing the hormone levels. Sometimes, medication or surgery is offered as an alternative therapy…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA