Graves disease affects millions of people worldwide as doctors and researchers struggle to find both its cause and its cure. While recognizable symptoms are often reported, in rare cases no apparent symptoms exist. Awareness of a basic Graves’ disease definition, its symptoms and the available treatment options that exist, can help with early detection of the disease and greatly assist in its effective management.
Graves Disease Definition
Graves’ disease is the most commonly diagnosed type of hyperthyroidism. It is characterized by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland, which then triggers an overproduction of the thyroxine hormone and increases the body’s metabolic rate. This activity causes a variety of very alarming physical and mental effects.
Although the disease can have a serious impact on one’s life if not properly treated, it is not typically life-threatening. Also, anyone can develop Graves’ disease symptoms at any age. While its symptoms can affect both men and women, it is most commonly diagnosed in women over the age of 20 years old.
Graves Disease Causes
At this time, doctors are not yet certain about the exact cause of Graves’ disease. However, it is widely believed that the following risk factors greatly increase the likelihood of its development in individual patients:
- Cigarette smoking
- Age (usually occurs in people over the age of 20 years)
- Sex (women tend to develop the disease at seven times the rate of male counterparts)
- One or more family members with the disease
Graves Disease Symptoms
Graves’ disease symptoms include:
- Increased perspiration
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sleeping difficulties
- Unintended weight loss
- Increased or frequent bowel movements
- Menstrual changes
- Brittle hair
- Red, swollen skin
- Bulging eyeballs (a condition also referred to as Graves’ ophthalmopathy)
- Tremors in the fingers and/or hands
- Heat sensitivity
- An enlarged thyroid gland (also referred to as a goiter)
Cases of Graves’ ophthalmopathy are most commonly found in patients who also smoke cigarettes. Graves’ ophthalmopathy also causes eyelid swelling, a widening of the space between the eyelids, red and swollen eyes, a feeling of having a gritty substance in the eyes, as well as excessive tearing. Other, symptoms, which occur most frequently in Graves’ ophthalmopathy are:
- Double vision
- Blurred vision
- Reduced vision
- Restricted eye movement
- Ulcers on the eye’s cornea
Graves Disease Remedies
While medical treatments do exist for the treatment of Graves’ disease, effective, safe and natural treatments do, as well. Such holistic health approaches are safe to use and, while they are not intended to replace mainstream treatments, they can be effectively used in tandem with them. Some of these include consuming certain herbs and vegetables believed to be powerfully effective agents against Graves’ disease symptoms, such as:
- Bugleweed (taken orally in tincture form)
- Lemon balm
- Self-heal greens
A special concoction, known as Gravestea, which combines lemon balm, bugleweed, mint, self-heal greens, verbena and rosemary in a tea is also believed to be helpful in combating the disease and its accompanying symptoms.
Also, avoiding certain foods, such as soy-based foods, which are known to interfere with the thyroid glands healthy functioning, may further reduce the symptoms of Graves’ disease.
For those suffering with Graves’ disease, diet and healthy living are especially important. The herbal and vegetable suggestions noted above should become regular staples in the diets of those diagnosed with Graves’. As well, achieving a better quality of life via holistic health strategies includes targeting a balance of one’s physical, mental and emotional health. Daily exercise, proper rest, adequate nutrition, spiritual sustenance and finding ways of relieving mental stress are always recommended.