Graves' Disease

The Disease that Tricks the Thyroid Gland

Graves' Disease Explanation

Graves' Disease is when the immune system creates antibodies that cause the thyroid to grow, and make more thyroid hormone than the body needs. The hormone responsible for "tricking" the thyroid into creating too much thyroid hormone is the Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulins (TSIs), which mimic the TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone) which is the hormone responsible for normally telling the thyroid when to produce hormones. The production of too much thyroid hormone is known as hyperthyroidism. The organ effected is the thyroid, and the body is effected with many different symptoms. Another organ that could be said to be effected would be the brain. TSH is made in the pituitary gland, which is located in the brain. Commonly, Graves' Disease will effect the eyes, causing them to be big, and bulgy. The body tries to balance itself by controlling the amount of thyroid hormone being released into the body.
"Graves' is five to ten times more common in women than men."


1. Weight Loss - Despite increased appetite

2. Sweating, Heat tolerance

3. Palpitations (abnormal, unusual rapid heart beat), chest pain

4. Muscle Weakness

5. Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath

6. Prominent, bulgy eyes


The body function impacted by Graves' Disease is the production of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. TSIs mimic TSH "tricking" the Thyroid into thinking that more thyroid hormone is needed to be released. This is all located in the Thyroid which is small, and butterfly shaped located in the front of the neck, below the larynx (voice box).


Antithyroid Medications: These medications prevent the thyroid from producing hormones. The Antithyroid Medications are none to relieve symptoms within a few weeks, however hyperthyroidism may return after the drug is stopped. A serious side effect of this medication is known as agranulocytosis which causes your body to not have enough white blood cells.

Radioactive Iodine (RAI): This type of treatment is either given in a capsule, or water base solution. Radioactive Iodine works by destroying thyroid tissue cells, thereby reducing thyroid hormone levels. However, patients can develop hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Although, doctors say that hypothyroidism is not too bad, because it is much easier to treat.

Surgery: Surgery is the third option to treat Graves' Disease. It is recommended if the goiter (inflamed thyroid) may need surgical removal. An endocrine, ear nose, or throat surgeon may be recommended to obtain thyroidectomy (partial or total removal of the thyroid).

Allie Sassaman, Period 8/9