Did you know that there are over 80 different types of autoimmune disorders that affect various organs, glands, systems and functions throughout the body? Graves’ disease is a common autoimmune disorder characterized by an overproduction of thyroid hormones.
The thyroid is considered one of the most important endocrine glands in the body, since it produces hormones that affect nearly every aspect of life: hunger, sleep, reproduction, energy levels, metabolism, body weight and more. You may have heard more about disorders caused by hypothyroidism, since they tend to be more common than hyperthyroid disorders. Hypothyroid conditions cause the thyroid to be underactive, meaning it doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
In the U.S., Graves’ disease is the No. 1 cause of hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland. So, what is Graves’ disease, and how can you treat this common thyroid issue naturally?
What Is Graves’ Disease?
Graves’ disease was first identified by Irish physician Robert Graves about 150 years ago. Graves’ disease symptoms can vary a lot depending on the individual and how severe the disorder has become. Because the thyroid gland has such widespread and important roles in the body, symptoms of Graves’ disease are usually very apparent and can affect overall well-being and health in many different ways. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the entire thyroid gland and results from the overproduction of thyroid hormones, known as thyrotoxicosis.
In the medical world, an autoimmune disorder is considered a chronic illness, having no permanent cure and needing to be controlled over time through various lifestyle changes and sometimes medications, too. The primary goal of controlling Graves’ disease is to stop the overproduction of thyroid hormones, which helps lower Graves’ symptoms, including trouble sleeping, weight loss, eye bulging (known as Graves’ orbitopathy) and personality changes.
As you’ll come to learn, managing stress is one of the most important ways to fight autoimmune disorders, since some studies find that up to 80 percent of patients who develop autoimmune disorders classify themselves as having suffered from high amounts of stress!
It can be hard to diagnose and treat Graves’ disease because many people who have symptoms of abnormal thyroid activity also experience symptoms that can confused with other disorders. Some studies have found that for someone to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder like Graves’ disease, it usually requires the patient to visit an average of five doctors over the course of several years, causing a lot of uncertainty and grief in the process.