symptoms of graves' diseaseGraves’ disease is the leading cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. Although it can affect both men and women, Graves’ Disease is ten times more prevalent in women than in men and generally presents in patients before the age of 40. Sometimes patients with this condition also suffer from other autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Similar to Hashimoto’s Disease, patients with Graves’ Disease produce antibodies that affect thyroid function. The antibodies that the immune system produces act like thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which causes the neck gland to produce more hormone than the patient’s body actually needs. This overproduction of this hormone is known as hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. This condition is typically diagnosed through blood tests and/or imaging tests.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common Graves’ Disease symptoms are those of an overactive thyroid. The signs and symptoms generally include some or all of the following:

  • Goiter
  • Rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nervousness/Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Hand tremors
  • Thinning hair
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Thick, red skin on shins and feet
  • Bulging eyes

One of the main differences between the symptoms of this condition and other forms of hyperthyroidism is also one of its most visible signs—the effect it can have on the eyes. Some people with the thyroid disorder develop inflamed, swollen tissue behind the eyes, which can cause one or both of the eyes to bulge, known as Graves’ ophthalmology. The bulging may cause discomfort and affect vision. Many patients are able to manage the symptoms of Graves’ ophthalmology with over-the-counter treatments and the help of an ophthalmologist, but more treatment may be necessary if symptoms are severe. The experts at La Peer Health Systems work closely with a team of renowned oculoplastic surgeons who are experienced in performing orbital decompression surgery for Graves’ Disease patients suffering from eye protrusion.

Treatment

There are several common methods used to treat Graves’ Disease and the treatment chosen often depends on the severity of the patient’s disease.

Radioactive iodine therapy is commonly used to treat this condition. The neck gland needs iodine to function properly, so when the patient ingests radioactive iodine, the gland absorbs the radiation and the overactive thyroid cells are destroyed. The radioactive iodine therapy will cause the neck gland to shrink and hormone production to slow down. Anti-thyroid medications and beta-blockers are also commonly prescribed to treat Graves’ Disease.

For some patients, radioactive iodine therapy and medications do not work. If this condition’s symptoms are severe enough, it may be necessary to remove the neck gland. The surgeons at our surgical center in Los Angeles are world-renowned for their minimally invasive thyroid removal techniques. Our surgeons use a small incision, less than one-inch in length, to remove the diseased thyroid gland. They utilize a small endoscope and their thyroid expertise to remove the neck gland with little trauma to the surrounding tissue and structures.

A minimally invasive thyroidectomy results in less scarring and a shorter recovery time than a traditional thyroidectomy. In fact, our head and neck surgeons even use plastic surgery techniques to close up the incision to minimize the appearance of the scar after the incision has healed.

FAQ

The head and neck surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence understand that thyroid disorders can be complicated and they are here to help make your research process easier. They have made a list of the answers to some frequently asked questions about Graves’ Disease.

Q: How can I tell if I have Graves’ Disease?

A: Patients with Grave’s Disease will typically experience some symptoms of hyperthyroidism or Graves’ ophthalmology that may lead them to seek medical treatment. Your doctor may also notice a thyroid abnormality, such as an enlarged thyroid gland, during a routine physical exam. The thyroid disorder can be diagnosed through blood testing.

Q: What is minimally invasive thyroidectomy?

A: A minimally invasive thyroidectomy is the procedure that has been perfected by the expert Los Angeles surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence. The procedure involves the use of a small incision at the base of the neck to remove the thyroid gland. The small incision and use of an endoscope makes this procedure less traumatic to the patient and recovery easier. For more information on minimally invasive thyroid removal, contact the experts at our surgical center in Los Angeles today.

Q: Will everyone with this condition need a thyroidectomy?

A: No, not every patient living with this condition will need to undergo gland removal. An endocrinologist will typically manage the treatment of this condition. Treatments such as radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medication, and beta-blockers are generally the first course of action for treating the thyroid condition. If these treatments prove ineffective or Grave’s Disease symptoms are severe, you may benefit from a thyroidectomy in which the thyroid is removed and hormone levels are maintained through medication.

Contact the Los Angeles Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence Today

If you have or think you may have Graves’ Disease, contact the experts at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence to learn more. Patients with advanced Graves’ Disease may benefit from a minimally invasive thyroidectomy performed by our highly regarded thyroid surgeons. Call us today at (888) 817-1439 to schedule a consultation.

To learn more about Graves’ Disease, contact our Los Angeles office today.

Please read this WebMD article on graves disease.

Next, please read about Hashimotos Thyroiditis.