Graves disease

Advice/Information for Family and Friends of Graves’ disease patients

Do’s and Don’ts for family and friends of Graves’ disease patients.

  • First: Don’t run away from a person who has Graves’ disease/hyperthyroidism. When it comes to Graves’ disease, or any thyroid disease for that matter, it would separate the weak from the strong. Don’t be that friend or spouse that leaves. Help as much as you can, write, email, text, visit, stay there for the long haul. The longer thyroid disease stays, the lonelier it gets.
  • Don’t say things like “Oh, you are just having a bad day, tomorrow will be different”, ” You can’t do the things you use to do 20 years ago” or “If you just get up and move, get outside and do things, you’ll feel better.” That’s not helping folks!
  • Don’t’ share horror stories about people who became worse because they had their thyroid removed, got RAI, or pursued natural treatment. It’s not considered a happy ending, if the character of your story got worse, one or another way.
  • When it comes to a serious disease like Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s, there are no right words. Keep it simple: “I’m here for you!”. And mean it. Sometimes you don’t have to speak even, your presence is enough and matters more than any words. Keep in touch, even your friend/spouse with Graves’ disease is too tired to talk, or to spend time with you. Continue to be there for them.
  • Don’t offer medical advice or discourage the person from pursuing the course of treatment he or she was chosen. (Unless you are a medical professional and you’ve been asked for an advice). Whether you agree with their decisions or not, respect the choices they have made. It’s about their health, not yours.
  • Don’t blame the person for being sick with thyroid disease. It’s not their conscious choice. Don’t point that he/she is being sick because of smoking, not eating healthy, lack of exercise, eating too much red meat, stress or negative thinking. Seriously, don’t do that!
  • Don’t point out anything that isn’t flattering- like their bulging or protruded eyes (that hurts!), brittle nails, skinny bodies, overweight bodies or fine hair. Make sure that your words are necessary, helpful and kind. That matters!
  • HugDon’t be afraid of the person being sick: Graves’ disease or any thyroid disease is not contagious. Get in there and hug, hugs mean more than words!

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Graves disease

5 Causes of Graves’ Disease and 5 Solutions for It

It is estimated that between 3 and 10 million people are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid.1 The most common form of hyperthyroidism is the autoimmune condition known as Graves’ disease.

I was diagnosed with Graves’ during my second year of medical school, and in my book, The Autoimmune Solution, I share my personal experience with Graves’ disease and how conventional medicine failed me. I never want anyone to go through what I went through, so it is my mission to empower as many people as I can with the information they need to use a healthier and more natural way to recover from Graves’ and other forms of hyperthyroidism.

What is Graves’ Disease?

Your thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck, produces hormones to help regulate body temperature, heart rate, growth, energy production, and brain health. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. When thyroid hormones are too high, energy metabolism will speed up, causing the body to burn through nutrients too quickly. This can result in malnutrition and chronic illness. While I combatted Graves’ I ate everything in sight and went from a size 4 to a size 0 in a matter of months.

The thyroid can become overactive for many reasons, yet it is commonly a result of the autoimmune condition Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease accounts for roughly 60-80% of all hyperthyroid cases.2 Normally, thyroid function is regulated by the pituitary gland, a tiny gland responsible for secreting TSH, which signals the thyroid to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4. In Graves’ disease, an antibody known as thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb) can mimic pituitary hormones and completely override the system, inducing an overactive thyroid. You can also develop Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) antibodies or Antithyroglobulin antibodies. I only had antibodies to TPO, which I frequently saw in my clinic as well.

Two other forms of hyperthyroidism which are not autoimmune conditions are known as toxic multinodular goiter and toxic adenoma. Toxic multinodular goiter involves the growth of independently functioning nodules on the thyroid gland itself. These nodules are able to stimulate the thyroid without the use of TSH, creating havoc in your thyroid hormone process, and provoking an overactive thyroid.

Toxic adenoma is a benign tumor consisting of thyroid follicular cells, which produce excessive amounts of T3 and/or T4. The excess thyroid hormones produced by toxic adenomas can suppress the function of remaining healthy thyroid tissue, leading to hyperthyroidism.

Graves’ Disease Symptoms

  • Hot flashes, sweating
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Frequent stools, loose stool or diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Anxiety, irritability, or constant fatigue
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Changes in menstrual cycles
  • Reduced libido
  • Bulging eyes
  • Thick red skin on shins or feet
  • Increased appetite
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle weakness

How is Graves’ Disease Diagnosed?

1. Blood testing your thyroid hormone levels is the first step. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) will be very low and the Free T4 and Free T3 will be elevated. In autoimmune conditions, you will see elevated levels of antibodies as well.

2. Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) is the next step in diagnosing a thyroid imbalance. An RAIU using a small dose of I-131 will determine how much iodine the thyroid takes up. A high iodine uptake is indicative of Graves’ disease. This test can be helpful in ruling out other possible causes of an overactive thyroid.

3. Ultrasound (US) of the thyroid is a helpful step to look at nodules on the thyroid. Your doctor may request for you to have a fine needle biopsy to confirm that the nodules are not cancerous.

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