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What is Hyperthyroidism?
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Graves' Disease

Graves' Disease is one of the major causes of Hyperthyroidism. It is caused by a generalized over activity of the thyroid gland, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves' disease is classified as an autoimmune disease, a condition caused by the patient's own immune system turning against the patient's own thyroid gland. The hyperthyroidism of Graves' disease, therefore, is caused by antibodies that the patient's immune system makes which attach to specific activating sites on thyroid gland which in turn cause the thyroid to make more hormone.

In this condition, the thyroid gland usually is renegade, which means it has lost the ability to respond to the normal control by the pituitary gland via TSH. Graves' disease is hereditary and is up to 5 times more common among women than men.

Graves Ophthalmology

Graves disease may be associated with eye disease (Graves' ophthalmopathy) and skin lesions (dermopathy). Ophthalmopathy can occur before, after, or at the same time as the hyperthyroidism. In early stages, it may cause sensitivity to light and an itching sensation in the eyes. The eyes may protrude and double vision can occur. The degree of ophthalmopathy is worsened in those who smoke. The course of the eye disease is often independent of the thyroid disease, and steroid therapy may be necessary to control the inflammation that causes the ophthalmopathy. In addition, surgical intervention may be required.

If the condition of Ophthalmopathy is not recognized and treated, it can result in permanent damage of the eyes and even cause blindness.


The skin condition (dermopathy) is rare and causes a painless, red, lumpy skin rash that appears on the front of the legs.

Characteristics of Graves Disease

  • Graves Disease effects women much more often than men.
  • Graves Disease is often called diffuse toxic goiter because the entire thyroid gland is enlarged, usually moderately enlarged, sometimes quite big.
  • Graves disease is uncommon over the age of 50.
  • Graves Disease tends to run in families.
  • ‹‹ What is Hyperthyroidism? Causes of Hyperthyroidism ››

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