Graves’ Disease Symptoms Can Differ From Patient to Patient

November 12, 2012

Graves’ Disease Symptoms Can Differ From Patient to Patient

Named after its discoverer, doctor Sir Robert Graves, Graves’ disease is a potentially fatal thyroid disease if left untreated. This disease responds well to medical care, so anyone experiencing Graves’ disease symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately. However, not everyone gets the same Graves’ disease symptoms, so anyone experiencing any strange symptoms, even if they are not listed here, should see a doctor as soon as possible. It could be Graves’ disease or something more severe. People most prone to getting Graves’ disease include those with parents or siblings with the disease; people under 40 years old; smokers and women. The typical patient is a young woman smoker going through a particularly stressful period in life, such as recovering from a death in the family. Common Symptoms Common Graves’ disease symptoms include:

  • Sudden weight loss despite not dieting or eating more often

  • Insomnia

  • Rise in blood pressure

  • Constant irritability for no known reason

  • Sudden anxiety for no known reason

  • Constantly feeling exhausted

  • Diarrhea or having more bowel movements than usual

  • Enlargement of the thyroid gland on the base of the neck

  • Trembling hands or individual fingers

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Sweating or hot flashes

  • Skin that’s constantly moist despite lowering room temperature

  • Men may experience impotence

  • Women experience changes in their periods, such as skimpy flow, remarkably heavy flow, getting period too frequently or skipped periods.

Patients may be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism before they are diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Graves’ disease can cause hyperthyroidism.

Eye Symptoms Over half of people with Graves’ disease experience strange and annoying eye problems. The eyes may seem to bulge out of their sockets. This is called Graves’ opthalmopathy. Smokers are most prone to getting this painful eye condition. Graves’ opthalmopathy may or may not be accompanied by other eye symptoms such as:

  • Red, irritated or swollen eyes

  • Double vision

  • Swollen eyelids

  • Eye pain

  • Excessive tearing

  • Extreme sensitivity to light, where even dark rooms are painfully bright

  • Feeling that grit is constantly in the eyes

  • Inability to move the eye muscles, causing an unsettling stare.

Patients with bulging eyes are more prone to injuring their eyes. If left untreated, patients may develop ulcers and lose their vision. This happens rarely, but is a serious concern. Uncommon and Dangerous Symptoms Uncommon Graves’ disease symptoms include a strange thickening of the skin on the shins or feet. The skin may also turn red and develop lumps. This is called Graves’ dermopathy. If the skin breaks open, a patient may need antibiotics. Dangerous Graves’ disease symptoms include sudden changes in heartbeat or a rapid pulse. You do not need to have been diagnosed with Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism in order to experience sudden changes in heartbeat and pulse. Call a doctor as soon as possible. Also contact a hospital or doctor if a person diagnosed with Graves’ disease suffers these symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Delirium

  • Unexplained panic attacks.

These symptoms could be a result of toxic levels of hormones produced by the thyroid, called a thyrotoxic crisis. It can be fatal.

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