Graves’ disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid. Graves disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to overproduce the hormone called thyroxine. This abnormal immune response also can affect the tissue behind the eyes as well as the skin, usually on the lower legs and feet.
When you have too much thyroid hormone in your system, your body’s metabolism rate can increase by 60% – 100% because thyroxine regulates your cells’ metabolism.
A higher metabolism can lead to a number of health problems, such as an irregular heartbeat or anxiety, but Graves’ disease is rarely life threatening.
Although it may develop at any age and in men or women, Graves’ disease is more common in women and usually begins after age 20.
At UAMS, our caring and compassionate specialists offer the complete range of services to treat hyperthyroidism. Treatment options include antithyroid drugs, radioactive iodine and surgically removing the thyroid. Special surgery through the nose can reduce bulging eyes in some cases.
For more information on graves’ disease, contact our Thyroid Center.