Graves' disease

Graves' disease is a type of Thyroid disease. These are primarily conditions that affect the amount of thyroid hormones being released.

Graves' disease, like most thyroid dysfunctions such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are due to autoimmune thyroid disease where antibodies either gradually destroy the thyroid, or make it overactive.

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease where the thyroidis overactive, producing an excessive amount of thyroid hormones leading to a metabolic imbalance known as hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis. This is caused by autoantibodies specific for the TSH-receptor (TSHR-Ab) that activates the TSH-receptor. This will stimulate the thyroid hormone synthesis and secretion, and thyroid growth. The resulting state of hyperthyroidism can cause a dramatic constellation of neuropsychological and physical signs and symptoms.

Antibodies against thyroglobulin (Tg) and thyroperoxidase (TPO) can aid in the diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Grave’s disease.

Graves´ disease - Symptoms

The hyperthyroidism in Graves' disease causes awide variety of symptoms. The two signs that are truly 'diagnostic' of Graves' disease (i.e., not seen in other hyperthyroid conditions) are exophthalmos(protuberance of one or both eyes) and pretibial myxedema, a rare skin disorder with an occurrence rate of 1-4%, that causes lumpy, reddish skin on the lower legs. Graves' disease causes goitre, an enlargement of the thyroid gland, of the diffuse type. Goitre also occurs with other causes of hyperthyroidism, though Graves' disease is the most common cause of the diffuse form.


Graves´ disease affects 2% of the female population

Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, and usually presents itself during early adolescence. The disease frequently builds over an extended period, sometimes reaching years, before being diagnosed. It has a powerful hereditary component and is also between five and ten times as common in females as in males. In general, the condition affects up to 2% of the female population.


Relevant Literature

  1. Brent GA. Clinical practice. Graves' disease. N. Engl. J. Med. 2008;358:2594–605
  2. Elberling TV et al. Impaired health-related quality of life in Graves' disease. A prospective study. Eur. J. Endocrinol. 2004;151:549–55
  3. Iglesias P et al. Severe hyperthyroidism: aetiology, clinical features and treatment outcome. Clin. Endocrinol. (Oxf) 2009;72:551–7.
  4. Tomer Y, Davies T. Infection, thyroid disease, and autoimmunity. Endocr Rev 1993;14: 107–20