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Graves' Disease/Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, or Graves’ Disease, is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is triggered by the immune system producing antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to increase the size of the gland and produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone.

Early diagnosis and treatment of Graves’ Disease is essential, as it can have adverse effects on heart function, bone structure and the eyes.  Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) is a condition Graves’ Disease patients need to be aware of and is associated with Graves’ Disease.

In the first instance, treatment with an anti-thyroid medication, either Neo-mercazole or Propylthiouracil (PTU) with approximately 50% of patients treated for one year achieving remission. Definitive treatment usually recommends if the patient does not go into remission or if there is a recurrence after an initial remission. Definitive therapy is carried out by way of a total thyroidectomy or radioactive iodine treatment.  

Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid, occurs if the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, causing every function in the body to speed up. If your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, Hyperthyroidism/Overactive Thyroid is usually caused by Graves’ Disease, which is an auto-immune thyroid disorder.

Other Causes of Hyperthyroidism

Other causes of hyperthyroidism include Toxic Nodular Goitre (a single nodule or multi nodules) and inflammatory conditions of the thyroid called thyroiditis. Taking excessive quantities of thyroid hormone preparations can also cause hyperthyroidism.

If you suffer from Hyperthyroidism, your symptoms could include:

  • Weight Loss/Increased Appetite
  • Loose Bowel Motions/Diarrhoea
  • Increased Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Hand Tremor
  • Tiredness/Weak Muscles, particularly around the upper arms and thighs
  • Enlarged thyroid gland
  • Menstrual Changes/Fertility Problems
  • Restlessness/Nervousness
  • Emotional/Irritability
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Protruding or Staring Eyes – (Thyroid Eye Disease Connected to Graves’ Disease)

‘ATF Medical Advisor, Clinical Associate Professor Mark Sywak speaks to Jasmin Noone – SBS Online about Graves’ Disease.’

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