Graves Disease Specialist Brisbane
Graves Disease is an autoimmune illness that affects more women than men in Brisbane and around the world. If left untreated, the illness could develop into more serious symptoms, thus a visit to a specialist is necessary.
Graves Disease is characterised by the overproduction of the thyroid hormone, also known as hyperthyroidism. The thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland, and they help boost the body’s metabolism, stay warm, and keep the major organs in the body work properly. A malfunction in the body’s disease-fighting immune system could be blamed for Graves Disease but the exact reason remains unknown.
Symptoms of Graves Disease
The most common symptom of Graves Disease is goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland that causes swelling in the neck. This makes swallowing and sleeping very difficult for most patients.
Other symptoms include:
- Bulging eyes
- Unexplained weight loss despite an increase in appetite
- Thickening and reddening of the skin
- Vision problems
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Frequent bowel movements
- Erectile dysfunction or reduced libido for men
- Sensitivity to heat
Graves disease affects women differently, and their symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, difficulty getting pregnant, and more problems during and after pregnancy: miscarriage, preterm birth, fetal thyroid dysfunction, poor fetal growth, maternal heart failure and preeclampsia (a maternal condition that results in high blood pressure).
Treatment for Graves Disease
The goal of treatment is to reduce the number of thyroid hormones in the body, so most patients are prescribed anti-thyroid drugs such as propylthiouracil and methimazole over a longer period of time for better long-term results.
Radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy is another option. While the patient takes an oral medication that aims to destroy thyroid cells over time and shrink the thyroid gland, the goal of this therapy is to leave enough thyroid tissue for the production of a healthy balance of hormones.
Patients could also be prescribed with beta blockers that block the effect of the thyroid hormones in the body. These medications help relieve symptoms such as fatigue, irregular heartbeat or palpitations, tremors, and sensitivity to heat.
Some patients might be required surgery if the side effects of anti-thyroid drugs and RAI are too much for them. Thyroidectomy involves removal of the thyroid gland (in part or in its entirety) by a surgeon that could take several hours.
Anyone suffering from any kind of disease is recommended to make healthier lifestyle choices to ease their way to recovery, along with the prescribed treatment and medication from their specialist.
It is recommended that patients eat foods rich in Vitamin D (salmon, eggs, mushrooms, etc.) which supports a healthy immune system and brain and nervous system activities. Protein-rich foods (chicken, turkey, beans, nuts, etc.) help support muscle production and provide energy. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, fish, olive oil, walnuts, etc.) help keep the body strong.
Patients must avoid caffeine (coffee, soda, tea, chocolate) as it worsens symptoms of Graves Disease like irregular heartbeat or palpitations, fatigue, and weight loss. Patients must also manage their stress levels or otherwise, it could trigger Graves Disease. Cigarette smoking is a big no since it negatively affects the immune system.
At Ubuntu Medical, we also have Autoimmune Specialists.