All That is Needed to Know About Graves’ Disease
Within the human body exists a small butterfly-shaped gland that weighs between 20 to 60 grams. It is located in the front of the neck, underneath the voice box and has two side lobes wrapped around the trachea. While this organ may be extremely miniscule in size, it plays a key role in the function of the endocrine system. This gland is called a thyroid and it is responsible for the growth, development and metabolism in the body. The thyroid produces three types of hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), tetraiodothyronine (T4 or thyroxine), and calcitonin. These hormones are meant to regulate the body’s metabolic rates, bone maintenance, brain development, digestive system, cardiovascular system and muscles. While it’s essential for the body to receive these hormones, sometimes an autoimmune response could cause the thyroid to overproduce them, thus causing hyperthyroidism. This condition is called Graves’ disease.
The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) claims that Graves’ disease is one of the most common types of hyperthyroidism in the United States¹. While the condition can lead to an abundance of different health problems, the issue remains underrated in the medical industry. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we specialize in tending to patients with different types of autoimmune disease and educating our patients on these conditions. In particular, Graves’ disease affects approximately one out of 200 autoimmune patients with women proportionately more impacted than men due to hormonal factors.
What is Graves’ Disease?
Named after Sir Robert Graves in the early 19th century, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder within the endocrine system that causes the thyroid to be overactive in the production of hormones, resulting in the release of too many of them in the body.
If the condition remains untreated for an extended amount of time, this can lead to significant health consequences such as:
- heart failure
- blood clots
- vision problems
- and arrhythmia
Depending on the amount of hormones released in the body determines the symptoms that the patient experiences. In its developing stages, many have reported:
- constant feelings of anxiety,
- hand tremors
- low libido
- frequent bowel movements
- weight loss
- or sleeping issues
- young women with the disorder may notice changes in their menstrual cycle such as infrequent periods or lighter flows
- men with the disorder may experience erectile dysfunction
Another way to discover early development of Graves’ disease is to look in the mirror and see if the lower neck is swollen. A swollen lower neck could indicate an enlarged thyroid and may even impact the respiratory system if it is severe.
What Causes Graves’ Disease?
Like many other autoimmune disorders, the cause of Graves’ disease remains to be a mystery, however researchers suspect that environmental factors and genetics may play a role. During an autoimmune response, the immune system malfunctions causing it to attack itself and release abnormal antibodies to mimic thyroid-stimulating hormones. These false signals confuse the thyroid gland and cause it to overwork itself and assemble unnecessary hormones. Some studies have discovered that certain genes such as the human leukocyte antigen complex (HLA) are associated with one’s risks of developing Graves’ disease along with continuous exposure to environmental toxins, long-term medication use, bacterial infections or inconsistent iodine levels.
Graves’ Disease Complications
Depending on the severity of the condition and an individual’s medical history, some patients may experience different complications due to the autoimmune disorder. On the other hand, other patients may not experience any complications besides the basic symptoms. In some individuals, especially those with a history of smoking, a condition called exophthalmos developed as a result of their Graves’ disease. Exophthalmos is a thyroid eye disease that affects the eye muscles and tissues. A patient’s eyes will appear irritated with either a red tint, tearing or enlarged pupils. Other patients have dealt with a skin condition called pretibial myxedema (Graves’ dermopathy) which resembles lumpy thickened skin on the shins.
Natural Treatments for Graves’ Disease
While conventional doctors may prescribe hormonal medications to stabilize the thyroid, this unfortunately doesn’t resolve the root cause of the issue. Moreover, medications may irritate the autoimmune disease and induce more serious health risks. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, patients are required to consult with a practitioner that specializes in autoimmune disorders to discuss medical history, medications, symptoms and other conditions or allergies that they may have. Subsequently, the practitioner will order bloodwork and other lab tests to measure thyroid iodine, T3 and T4 hormone levels. This will check for deficiencies, environmental toxicity, inflammation, and bacterial infections. Furthermore, this will also detect whether or not the patient is suffering from a thyroid-related issue. Based on the results of the testing process, a LifeWorks physician will provide an extensive treatment plan. The plan could involve intravenous therapies, ozone therapies, supplementation, peptides and/or dietary changes.
Treat Your Graves’ Disease at LifeWorks
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we’ve assisted patients enduring hyperthyroidism and autoimmune diseases return to their daily lives without the use of invasive treatments. For the past 23 years, we’ve succeeded in treating multiple patients, putting their conditions into remission or eliminating them completely.
If you or someone you know is experiencing Graves’ disease, other forms of hyperthyroidism or other forms of autoimmune disease, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners at 727-466-6789. Learn more about the treatments that we offer.