Williams said she is taking a break from her show for three weeks, and fans offered their support.

Josh McBride

@JoshyMcB

Sad that my girl @WendyWilliams is taking time off for 3 weeks but glad she is getting healthy. Sending love. #Wendywilliams

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sia

@Sia

i’m not crazy! i have graves disease! the shakes,the nerves. THE CRAZY!!
goodbye thyroid. i will kill you with radioactivity.

281

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We talked with Dr. Terry J. Smith, chief medical and scientific officer of the Graves’ Disease & Thyroid Foundation, to find out more about the condition, which is an autoimmune disease — the type of disease where your immune system goes off the rails and attacks a normal, healthy part of the body.

1. Graves’ affects the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck.

Tharakorn / Getty Images

Graves’ is a bit unusual because, instead of destroying tissue like other autoimmune diseases, people with Graves’ have abnormal antibodies that stimulate the thyroid to make way too much hormone.

Because the thyroid helps control metabolism and a bunch of other things, this condition — known as hyperthyroidism — can affect many different parts of the body.

About 1 in 200 people have Graves’ disease, or 10 million people in the US. It’s usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 50, and is 7 to 8 times more common in women than men. But it can happen at any age, and just because more women get it doesn’t mean men can’t.

2. And despite the name, the disease has nothing to do with actual graves.

Giphy / Via giphy.com

It’s named after an Irish physician named Robert Graves, who discovered it about 150 years ago.

3. There are A LOT of different symptoms, including anxiety and sweating.

Giphy / Via giphy.com

This condition can cause a bunch of symptoms that could be mistaken for other problems, including anxiety, irritability, abnormal periods, increased sweating, tremors, and more.

“The dominant symptoms can be a racing heartbeat, increased perspiration, diarrhea, increased anxiety, weight loss, and heat intolerance,” says Smith, who is also a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. “People often feel hot when others around them are comfortable or even cold.”

Other symptoms are shortness of breath, muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and chest pain. Eye problems can also be an issue, such as tearing, light sensitivity, and swelling and inflammation of the eyes causing redness, double vision, pain, and a gritty feeling.

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