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Graves Disease

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is Graves disease?

Graves disease is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland. This causes your body to make too much thyroid hormone and leads to hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that is found in the front part of your neck. Thyroid hormones regulate body temperature, heart rate, and weight.

Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands

What increases my risk for Graves disease?

The exact cause of Graves disease is unknown. Certain things may increase your risk of Graves disease. This includes having a family history of Graves disease or being female. Conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and vitiligo (a skin disorder) may also increase your risk. Graves disease is more common among females and people younger than 40. Pregnancy affects the thyroid and can trigger Graves disease in some women.

What are the signs and symptoms of Graves disease?

How is Graves disease diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you. Your provider may gently feel the area over your thyroid gland for swelling or bumps. Tell your provider about your symptoms and any medical conditions you have. You may also need the following tests:

What is a thyroid storm?

A thyroid storm happens when your thyroid hormone levels get too high. Your body temperature may go very high, your heart may beat very fast, and you may have problems thinking. You may have increased sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. You may have seizures or go into a coma. Thyroid storm may happen if you have hyperthyroidism and get an infection or stop taking your thyroid medicine. Injuries, burns, and certain medicines can also cause a thyroid storm.

How is Graves disease treated?

How can I manage Graves disease?

Call 911 or have someone call 911 for any of the following:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.