Graves’ disease, also known as Basedow’s disease is a condition that affects the autoimmune system. It leads the immune system to create antibodies that drive the hyper production of the thyroid hormone – more than the body requires. There are several factors that can contribute to hypothyroidism; however, Grave’s disease is found to be the most common. The disease can significantly impact one’s overall well-being and must be brought to the attention of a medical professional as soon as possible.
Grave’s disease can affect anybody; however, it is more common among women who are above the age of 40. It may be extremely difficult to make a diagnosis of this condition as its early symptoms can be easily confused with several other conditions. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment can aid in the more successful treatment of the condition. The main goal of treatment for Graves’ disease is to inhibit the excessive production of the thyroid hormones while reducing the number of symptoms and their severity. Some of the common treatment methods for Graves’ disease include:
- Radioactive iodine therapy: The radioactive iodine therapy involves the use of radioactive iodine that must be taken by the mouth. This therapy works by getting into the thyroid cells and eventually destroying the over activeness of the thyroid cells. The treatment causes the gland of the thyroid to shrink and this in turn aids in lessening the symptoms. Radioactive iodine therapy may cause certain side-effects and is not recommended for everybody, especially women who are breastfeeding and pregnant. Post this therapy, the thyroid gland activity may be affected, and one will have to undergo treatment for enough supply of the hormones.
- Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers work as a treatment that blocks the effect of the hormones on the body. Unlike other treatment types, they do not suppress the production of thyroid hormones. The blockers can bring about effective relief against symptoms such as sweating, irritability, tremors, heartbeats, diarrhea and more. However, these medications can have negative effects on people who suffer from conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
- Antithyroid medication: Anti-thyroid medication control or manipulate the way in which the thyroid uses iodine to produce hormones. This form of treatment may also be used with other methods to bring about better and successful effectiveness. The drugs, however, do carry the risk of causing damage to the liver. Other effects can include rashes, pain in the joints and drop in the white blood cells count. Also, the medication may be alternatively used on pregnant women depending on the stage of pregnancy.
- Surgical treatment: Surgical treatment for Graves’ disease involves the removal of the thyroid or a part of the gland. However, post this surgery, one will have to undertake treatment that generates enough amounts of thyroid hormones in the body. Surgery is the last resort as it poses a major risk of damaging the nerve that controls the tiny glands around the thyroid gland and the vocal cords too. It can also disrupt the levels of calcium supply to the blood. The complications are rare and will also depend on the overall health of the patient.