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Graves’ Disease: What is It?

One’s immune system is the body’s defense team against bacteria, viruses and infectious organisms. However, there are instances wherein one’s network of immune defenses attacks the own body’s cells, tissues and organs. This condition is often referred to as an autoimmune disorder. Such is the case of Graves’ disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing over-activity. Anti-thyroid drugs, radiation therapy and surgery are the most common approaches in treating the disorder. Dr. Daniel S. Tresley performs aChicago Graves’ Disease surgery for clients seeking treatment. We round up the must-knows of the condition below.

Although the cause is said to be autoimmune, it has also been found out that Graves’ disease is actually a result of both environmental and genetic factors. The College of American Pathologists posited that stress is the most common trigger of the disease. Other triggers include excessive production of the hormone estrogen, iodine and certain chemicals like aspartame.

Signs and Symptoms

Any individual with Graves’ disease commonly manifests the following signs and symptoms: irritability, insomnia, heat sensitivity, sudden weight loss, increased perspiration, muscular weakness, lighter menstrual flow, hand tremors and abnormally high heart rate. One unique characteristic of patients affected with the condition is the distinct inflammation around the eyes resulting to a protruding or bulging appearance. This is often referred to as Graves’ opthalmopathy.

One patient may only exhibit just one of the major signs and symptoms while others may present with a combination of the aforementioned.

Diagnosis

A clinical evaluation may include a thorough physical examination and a detailed assessment of one’s medical and/or familial history. The most definitive test in the diagnosis of Graves’ disease is through a series of blood tests.

Treatment

Treatment for the condition is directly focused to reducing levels of the thyroid hormone in your blood. Apart from taking prescription drugs, radioactive iodine therapy also shrinks the enlarged (overactive) thyroid.

Surgery by Dr. Tresley could be done two-fold: if only a single nodule is involved in the producing excess hormones, the nodule will only be removed, while it is also possible for Dr. Tresley to remove the entire gland if the diagnosis calls for it.

Other surgical approaches applied to Graves’ disease include several degrees of eye muscle surgeries. These surgeries are indicated in conditions wherein the eye muscles are no longer aligned due to excessive swelling.

For more information about Graves’ disease and its treatment,schedule a visit at Dr. Tresley’s office for an initial consultation the soonest!

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