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What is Grave's Disease?

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In certain conditions, the body acts against itself in ways that can wreak systemic havoc. Turning against the thyroid gland, the immune system in Grave's Disease causes the thyroid to overproduce the hormone thyroxine in response. Affecting you in a myriad of ways, from mood swings to changes in eyes and other aspects of your appearance, this form of hyperthyroidism is the most common form.

While Grave's Disease is almost never life-threatening, the higher levels of thyroxine increase the metabolic rate of your body. It is this increase in metabolism which can cause your system to become unbalanced and contribute to noticeable changes.

Grave's does not discriminate; both men and women can suffer from it. However, it is most commonly seen in women age 20 or older.

While the cause of this condition are virtually unknown, there is help in the form of easing symptoms and reducing the production of the hormone thyroxine.

Some of the symptoms of Grave's disease include:
A fine tremor of your hands or fingers
An increase in perspiration
Sensitivity to heat
Difficulty sleeping
A rapid or irregular heartbeat
Weight loss, despite normal food intake
Brittle hair
Enlargement of your thyroid gland (goiter)
Change in menstrual cycles
Frequent bowel movements
Graves' ophthalmopathy

The condition known as Graves' ophthalmopathy is quite common to those with Grave's disease. due to the swelling of muscles and tissues behind your eyes, they may bulge out past their protective orbit, the orbit known as the exophthalmos. This forward pushing can cause your eyeballs to become dryer than they normally would, adding to the discomfort. Cigarette smokers with Graves' disease are five times more likely than nonsmokers to develop Graves' ophthalmopathy. This is possibly because smoking inhibits the absorption of anti-thyroid medication that is used to treat Graves' disease.

Graves' ophthalmopathy may cause these mild signs and symptoms:
Excess tearing and sensation of grit or sand in either or both eyes
Reddened or inflamed eyes
Widening of the space between your eyelids

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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