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When you think about diseases and disorders that can attack the immune system one of the first ones that might pop into your mind is Graves’ disease. You may not know what it is or how it effects the immune system but you have heard about it, after reading this paper you will have a better understanding of the disease and how it affects your body and your everyday life along with how to manage the disease.
Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that causes hyperthyroidism. There are several things that can cause this but Graves’ disease is the most common. The thyroid hormones influence a number of different body system so signs and symptoms associated with Graves disease can come in many different ways that affect your body health. This disease is rarely life threatening and is most common in women and strikes normally. Some of the signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease are anxiety, irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, weight lose, enlargement of the thyroid gland, a change in menstrual cycles, bulging eyes, and an increased sensitivity to heat. As you can see there are many signs of this disease so diagnosing it can be difficult. If you are having a number if these signs you should see your doctor.
The cause of Graves’ disease is dysfunction in the body’s disease fighting immune system. Normal thyroid function is regulated by the pituitary gland, when graves’ disease strikes it triggers the production of antibodies to attack a particular protein on the surface of cells in the thyroid. When these antibodies start attacking many things can go wrong including heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, and fluctuations in a women’s menstrual cycle. Although anyone can develop Graves’ disease a number of factors can increase the risk of the disease. They are family history, gender, age, emotional or physical stress, pregnancy and smoking.
There are several treatments for Graves’ disease; they are used to inhibit the production of thyroid hormones and to block the effect of the hormones on the body. Some of the treatments include radioactive iodine therapy. This means that you take radioactive iodine by mouth to destroy the overactive thyroid cells. This treatment causes your thyroid to shrink and the problems will gradually lessen over a few weeks, to a few months. Another treatment is anti-thyroid medications. These interfere with the thyroids use of iodine to produce hormones. Beta blockers may also be used, this won’t inhibit the production of thyroid hormones but it will block the effect of hormones on the body.
Living with Graves’s disease is possible; you have to make your mental and physical well being a priority. You should maintain a good diet and exercise regime, and try to reduce your level of stress. If you can do these few things and work with your doctor you should be able to live a full life while managing your disease.
Mayo Clinic Staff, Graves disease, July 7, 2011, retrieved on January 21, 2013 from WWW.mayoclinic.com
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