The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves’ disease. This disorder can affect the liver, bone, heart, eyes, skeletal muscles, and skin. Graves’ disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all hyperthyroid cases. The National Institutes of Health reports that women aged 20 to 50 years old are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with Graves’ disease. hyperthyroidism risk factors

Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease, causes hyperthyroidism, a condition whereby the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Essentially, the immune system produces antibodies called thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins that attack and attach to healthy thyroid cells. When this occurs, your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.

Thyroid hormones affect almost every system in your body. They can impact your nervous system, your core body temperature, your brain development, and much more. If your hyperthyroidism is left untreated, you may experience fatigue, irritability, anxiety, and weight loss.

Risk Factors

There are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing Graves’ disease including:

  • Age – Graves’ disease is typically diagnosed in individuals younger than 40.
  • graves disease symptoms Autoimmune Disease – If you have another autoimmune disease like type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., your risk of developing Graves’ disease increases.
  • Gender – Women are approximately 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with Graves’ disease than men are.
  • Genetics – If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, you are at a significantly increased risk of developing Graves’ disease.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy or recently giving birth can increase your risk of developing Graves’ disease.
  • Smoking – Cigarette smoking can affect the immune system and lead to Graves’ disease. Furthermore, smokers are at an increased risk of developing Graves’ ophthalmopathy which refers to bulging of the eyes.
  • Stress – Chronic stress causes inflammation in the body, which can lead to immune disorders such as Graves’ disease.

Symptoms of Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease causes a plethora of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Anxiety low libido - graves disease symptoms
  • Bulging eyes
  • Decreased libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland)
  • Graves’ dermopathy whereby the skin becomes thick and red around the shin
  • Hand tremors
  • Heat intolerance
  • Irritability
  • Menstrual cycle changes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight loss

When your body produces too many thyroid hormones, this can cause a multitude of symptoms and complications such as:

  • Brittle Bones – When hyperthyroidism is left untreated, osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) can occur. Hyperthyroidism interferes with the body’s ability to utilize calcium to build and strengthen bones.
  • Heart Issues – If Graves’ disease is left untreated, this can cause heart rhythm disorders, heart failure, and changes in the function and structures of the heart muscles.
  • Pregnancy Problems – Untreated Graves’ disease increases the risk of preeclampsia, poor fetal growth, heart failure in the mother, fetal thyroid dysfunction, miscarriage, and preterm birth.
  • Thyroid Storm – A thyroid storm is a rare yet life threatening condition that causes a sudden, drastic increase of thyroid hormones.

Treatment for Graves’ Disease

If you have a family history or Graves’ disease or if you are experiencing some symptoms of Graves’ disease, your functional medicine provider will use a combination of lab tests, analysis of your family and medical history, and a thorough physical examination. In some cases, an ultrasound may be required of your thyroid gland to determine if you have Graves’ disease or another thyroid disorder.

thyroid disorders - graves disease symptoms Early diagnosis is vital to improved health. If Graves’ disease is not timely diagnosed, the risk of cardiac issues, including atrial fibrillation, cardiac failure, and death increases. Once Graves’ disease has been diagnosed, effective treatments can be employed to reduce the risk of death.

Some key treatment options for Graves’ disease are antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine therapy, or thyroid surgery. Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on your individual health condition.

  • Antithyroid Medications – Antithyroid medications like methimazole or propylthiouracil are often prescribed for Graves’ disease. Other medications called beta blockers may also be prescribed to reduce your symptoms while other treatment options are beginning to work.
  • Radioiodine Therapy – Radioactive iodine therapy, also known as radioiodine therapy, is typically used for Graves’ disease. The radioactive iodine is typically given in pill form and is used to reduce the number of thyroid hormones in the body.
  • Thyroid Surgery – Utilizing thyroid surgery is generally a last-ditch effort if other methods are not helping or if thyroid cancer is suspected. Thyroid surgery involves removing the thyroid gland and afterwards a person will take thyroid hormone replacement therapy indefinitely.

Improve Your Graves’ Disease Symptoms

If you have Graves’ disease, there are several things you can do to improve both your physical and mental health. These lifestyle changes and home remedies help to counteract the effects of hyperthyroidism on the body and relieve the multitude of symptoms experienced with Graves’ disease.

  • Healthy Diet Eat a Healthy Diet – Graves’ disease can impact your weight and bone density. Eating a healthy diet filled with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium helps to promote bone health. In addition to this, make sure you consume an ample amount of calories to help reduce the risk of weight loss which is common with hyperthyroidism. It is advisable to consult with an integrative nutritionist for personalized diet plans to suit your individual needs and ensure weight control.
  • Exercise – Performing at least 150 minutes of exercise each week helps to maintain proper health. You will want to include aerobic exercises, flexibility exercises, and strength training exercises in your regimen. Weight bearing and strength training exercises help to maintain bone density while aerobic activity and flexibility exercises help to reduce stress levels.
  • Stress Relief Techniques – Hyperthyroidism can also increase a person’s stress levels. Stress relief techniques like journaling, taking a warm bath, deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and prayer can help reduce stress and improve overall health and well being. Graves Treatment

How Can We Help?

Our functional medicine providers specialize in holistic treatment of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and other thyroid disorders. Functional medicine works to find the root cause of disease through physical evaluation and the latest health testing protocols. Providers use a combination of targeted supplements, lifestyle modifications, exercise programs, therapeutic diets, and detoxification protocols to relieve symptoms and improve your overall health.

If you have been diagnosed with Grave’s disease or have a family history of thyroid problems and are experiencing the symptoms described above, contact us today.