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11 Signs & Symptoms of Graves’ Disease (Hyperthyroidism)

Kimberly Love

To say that the human body is a wonder would be an understatement. Despite your beliefs of how we, as species, got here, be it through the divine or through evolution, our bodies truly are a work of art.

Putting aesthetics aside, our bodies (or at least, a healthy one) is a perfect balance of numerous interworking parts that allows us to not only grow but to flourish. We have our muscular system which consists of layers of muscles that cover the bones of our skeleton, extend across joints, and can contract and relax which allows us to produce movement. The skeletal system is strong, yet flexible framework of bones and connective tissues that provide our body with support and protect many of our internal parts. Our nervous system is the body’s main control network, consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves throughout the body. The circulatory system supplies oxygen to the body through the blood and our respiratory system supplies oxygen to that blood. And while this is but only a few of the systems that interplay to help us live and enjoy life, there is one that stands out among the rest, almost like a hidden entity that does much more for our bodies and minds that you might be aware of – the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is what controls many of our bodies processes such as growth and energy production. This is done through a series of hormone-producing glands that release certain hormones that are responsible for regulating metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, mood and many other key functions. Of those glands, there is one specific one that is an unsung hero when it is working and the source of much concern and detriment when it isn’t – the thyroid gland.

Specifically, the thyroid gland produces hormones which regulate the body’s metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance. Knowing this and the importance that it holds, can you imagine if it starts to malfunction? What happens if the thyroid started producing too little of the hormones our body needs? Furthermore, and the topic of this article, what if the thyroid started to produce too much?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that directly affects the thyroid. According to Dr. David S. Copper, MD, and Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the thyroid “makes hormones called T3 and T4 that regulate how the body uses energy. Thyroid hormone levels are controlled by the pituitary, which is a pea-sized gland in the brain. It makes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which triggers the thyroid to make thyroid hormone.”

In the case of Graves’ disease, the immune system makes antibodies that act like TSH, which in turn, causes the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than the body needs. This overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, causes every function of the body to speed up, from your heart rate to your metabolism.

Graves’ disease, and in turn, hyperthyroidism can wreak havoc on a person’s life. And while there are treatment options available, before those can be had, it first needs to be diagnosed. This can be done through a series of tests, however, prior to all of that, a person first must go to the doctor and get a diagnose, and in order to do that, they need to know, or at least think, something is wrong. Which is why we are here today.

Many conditions and disease go undiagnosed because patients simply don’t know that anything is wrong. Very often, a prolonged illness can turn into the “norm,” but if you know what to be on the lookout for, you will know when it is time to seek a healthcare professional.

So erring on the side of caution and for overall public health and well-being, allow us to present to you 11 symptoms of Graves’ disease, in hopes that if it applies to you, that you learn that your “norm” no longer has to be.

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