Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
The thyroid gland is an important organ of the endocrine system. It is located in the front of the neck just below the voice box. This gland releases the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control body metabolism. Controlling metabolism is critical for regulating mood, weight, and mental and physical energy levels.
If the body makes too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. (An underactive thyroid leads to hypothyroidism.)
Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is caused by an abnormal immune system response that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. Graves disease is most common in women over age 20. However, the disorder may occur at any age and may affect men as well.
Breast enlargement in men (possible)
Eyeballs that stick out (exophthalmos)
Eye irritation and tearing
Frequent bowel movements
Irregular menstrual periods in women
Rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations or arrhythmia)
Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
Shortness of breath with activity
Weight loss (rarely, weight gain)
Exams and Tests
Physical examination shows an increased heart rate. Examination of the neck may show that the thyroid gland is enlarged (goiter).
Other tests include:
Blood tests to measure levels of TSH, T3, and free T4
Radioactive iodine uptake
This disease may also affect the following test results:
Orbit CT scan or ultrasound
Thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI)
Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibody
Anti-TSH receptor antibody