Graves Disease is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects only 2% of our population.

The causes of Graves are as little understood as the rest of the autoimmune diseases. It is a disorder of the thyroid gland that causes an increase in the uptake of thyroid hormones, called hyperthyroidism. Also known as toxic goiter, this disease can cause some very serious symptoms to occur, some of them life threatening if not treated. The symptoms are: Rapid heartbeat Weight loss Tremors and shaking of the hands Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements Fatigue Sensitivity to heat Inability or great difficulty in getting pregnant Hyperirritability Changes in vision Excess perspiration Muscle weakness-often severe According to the findings as of today, Graves Disease is the only one of the hyperthyroid disorders that cause a thickening around the eye, and the bulging eyeballs of goiter. Another rare manifestation of Graves Disease is a thickening of the skin on the shins, accompanied by a reddish scaly coarsening, known as pretibial myexedema. How is Graves disease diagnosed? Specialized thyroid tests including the thyroid stimulating free hormone, in addition to the traditional Free T3 and T4 screening tests, alert your physician that you have hyperthyroidism. Another thyroid assay used to nail the diagnosis down is the TSI-Thyroid Stimulating Hormone test. Scans can also be used to gauge the amount of enlargement and to check for the speckled patterns seen in other autoimmune diseases. The causes of Graves Disease are unknown. There does tend to be a familial history of some form of hyperthyroidism in families, but that only raises the possibility of Graves Disease developing. Stress plays a factor in some cases, caused either by illness or major life events. Stress as a trigger both for developing autoimmune diseases or having flares is a well documented aspect of autoimmune disruption. There has been some indication as with SLE, that a woman's hormones play a part in the development of this illness. How is this disease treated? If the disease is in the mild to moderate stages, an anti-thyroid medication can be prescribed, which modulates how much free thyroid is in your system. Often this is enough to put the patient into remission. Radioactive iodine is used for moderately severe Graves Disease. The uptake of the substance kills off excess thyroid cells, and ultimately destroys the thyroid gland, without resorting to surgery. You will need to be treated for hypothyroidism for the rest of your life.

Graves can cause badly shortened eye muscles. agitation and confusion. Because you are at higher risk for osteoporosis. with a pounding heart. It often requires more than one surgery to correct the issue. That support is a critical component in helping you get needed support during flares. Use drops and gels to soothe and cool irritated eyes frequently. then reattach it further back in the Cardiac symptoms and tremors can be relieved by the use of beta blockers such as Lopressor or Inderal. . itching and burning. an opthamologist can perform surgery to remove supraorbital bone between the eye socket and sinuses to relieve pressure by decompressing the area and give the eyeball room to ease back in. Use compression bandages on your affected shin(s) along with cortisone creams to ease swelling. and provides you with a "safe" outlet for those often rocky moments. If you show signs of osteoporosis there are medications you can take to increase bone density over time. The best part of support groups is the giving back. such as trauma surgery or infection. Eye symptoms and discomfort can be eased with lubricating gels and drops. Though if eye inflammation. To make your life more comfortable it is suggested that you try the following things: Sleep with the head of your bed elevated to relieve the pressure to your eyes. using oral medication is a lifetime necessity for patients who have had their thyroid glands removed. It is surprising how just as small few words of encouragement for someone else can improve both your lives. People with autoimmune disorders during flare ups frequently evince such signs. restlessness. One of the most dangerous crisis' is thyrotoxic storm : "Thyrotoxic storm is a rare life-threatening condition that develops in cases of untreated hyperthyroidism. This is a small price to pay. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy. irritability and fatigue will improve over time with treatment. It is usually brought on by an acute stress. make certain to take enough calcium. Symptoms are severe. as left untreated Graves Disease can be a life threatening illness. change in consciousness. diarrhea. Always wear sunglasses with specially filtered lenses when outdoors to protect your vulnerable eye area. another frequent side effect of Graves Disease can in some cases be alleviated by the use of prisms in glasses. If this is a problem. shaking. Recognize that symptoms of emotional instability such as excessive worry. and get a bone density scan yearly. which do go away once the flare is brought under control. Double vision. Frequently the use of corticosteroids to tamp down hyperimmunity can be helpful in alleviating many of the symptoms of inflammation to the eyes. Congestive heart failure can develop rapidly and lead to death. bulging and visual disturbances are severe. sweating.Removal of the thyroid gland surgically often effectively eliminates the risks associated with the worst of this disease. Finally get support from others who have Graves Disease. a surgeon can detach the muscle." ibid: womenshealth. You can find a group online through the links I've posted below.