In honor of Grave’s disease awareness month, we at Desert West Surgery want to share the signs, symptoms, and treatments of this disease. Grave’s disease is an autoimmune disorder whereby your thyroid gland begins to produce excess amounts of thyroid hormone. This condition is one of the most commonly reported forms of hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for normal nervous system functioning, brain development, and body temperature. These hormones help keep the metabolism of the body running at a balanced rate. When our body releases more thyroid hormones, it triggers a faster metabolism. A chemical known as thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in short is produced by the pituitary gland. It is this chemical that tells the thyroid gland as to how much hormone it should produce.
When a patient contracts Grave’s disease, the immune system produces antibodies that trigger the TSH receptors, which causes the thyroid to produce a lot more of the hormone than usual and causes the body metabolism to speed up.
If left untreated, the condition may cause depression, physical fatigue, weight loss, and mood swings.
Symptoms of Grave’s disease
Hyperthyroidism and Grave’s disease share many of the same symptoms. A few of them are:
- Hand tremors
- Rapid heart beats
- Sudden weight loss
- Intolerance or extreme sensitivity to heat
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble falling asleep
In a few rare cases, patients may also suffer from reddened and thickened skin in and around the shin region which is called Graves’ dermopathy.
Another symptom among people suffering from Grave’s disease is ophthalmology. This happens when your eyelids retract and your eyes seem enlarged. This causes your eyes to bulge out of your eye sockets. According to experts, about 30% of those who contract Grave’s disease suffer from a mild case of Graves’ ophthalmology and 5% of them suffer from a severe case of Graves’ ophthalmology.
Treatment options for Grave’s disease
Thanks to the advancements in the field of medicine, there are a number of treatments available for patients suffering from Grave’s disease. All these treatments are aimed at curbing the overproduction of thyroid hormones. Some of these treatments also help reduce the symptoms dramatically.
Radioactive iodine therapy
The most common treatment for Grave’s is radioactive iodine therapy. It is non-invasive and highly effective. In this form of treatment, radioactive iodine is ingested orally, which gradually destroys overactive thyroid cells. This helps in reducing the size of the thyroid gland and the secretion of thyroid hormones.
There are two drugs that are used to prevent the gland from producing abnormal amounts of thyroid hormone. Propylthiouracil and Methimazole block the oxidation of iodine in the gland and symptoms begin to improve in about 4 weeks of starting the medication. The course of medication may continue for as long as 18 months to ensure the patient doesn’t relapse.
Surgery for Hyperthyroidism – Are You a Candidate for a Thyroidectomy?
When all other forms of treatment fail, surgery is performed to treat Grave’s disease. The surgery entails the removal of affected parts or the whole gland depending on the severity of the symptoms. The biggest advantage of thyroidectomy is that it is a consistent, quick, and permanent way to stabilize thyroid hormone levels in the body.
Patients may experience symptoms such as neck pain and a weak voice soon after surgery. These symptoms are caused due to a breathing tube that is inserted into the windpipe as a part of the procedure. If only a part of the thyroid gland is surgically removed, the remaining part will begin to function normally. In the case the whole gland is removed, your physician will prescribe hormone pills to ensure the body can receive thyroid hormones that it no longer can produce naturally.
If you are experiencing any of the above said symptoms, be sure to contact Desert West Surgery at 702-383-4040, to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and highly knowledgeable surgeons who will diagnose and suggest the right course of treatment.