Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

How Do You Get Graves' Disease?

The exact etiology of Graves' disease is still under research and is not completely known. However, what is known is that-

  • Graves' disease essentially occurs due to the malfunctioning of the immunity system of the body, whose work is to fix the diseases contracted by the body.
  • Antibodies in a functionally normal immune system target the disease producing agent like the bacteria or virus or any other substance. However, in Graves' disease the abnormal functioning of the immune system leads to an ongoing production of an antibody targeting the thyroid gland, present in the neck.
  • The antibody so produced in the thyroid gland inhibits the proper functioning of the gland thereby overriding the usual working of the gland. This in particular is responsible for the hyper secretion of the thyroid gland leading to hyperthyroidism.

How Do You Get Graves' Disease?

Some of the known risk factors that can trigger Graves' disease include-

  • It has been seen that women are more prone to having Graves' disease than men of the same age.
  • A major risk factor is having a family history of Graves' disease. Heredity makes genes more vulnerable to contract such diseases.
  • Graves' disease is more common among young people, preferably of age less than 40.
  • It has been seen that patients who are already suffering from type 1 diabetes are prone to have Graves' disease. People with Rheumatoid arthritis equally have similar chances.
  • Stressful life paves way for diseases to come quickly. It has been seen that any form of life event, which is stressful may act as an agent to trigger Graves's disease who have a family history of the same.
  • An expecting mother or women recently giving birth to a baby are all the more prone to have Graves' disease provided that the woman has a family history of the disease.

Doctors are of the view that smoking may affect the immune system of the body, paving way to Graves' disease.

What are the Complications Associated With Graves' Disease?

Although the complications may vary from person to person, in general, Graves' disease has the following problems associated with it. They include-

  • Expecting mothers having Graves disease should be extra careful because there is a possibility of having miscarriages and preterm birth of the baby. Apart from this, the new born baby may have thyroid dysfunction and suffer from developmental abnormalities.
  • Graves' disease, if left untreated may bring various heart diseases into action. The disease makes the heart muscles weak thereby making it unable to pump blood properly throughout the body resulting in congestive heart failure.
  • Since Graves' disease increases the activity of the thyroid gland, it may lead to problems concerning the bone conditions of the patient. Hyperthyroidism makes bones brittle leading to osteoporosis. This occurs because a large amount of thyroid hormone does not allow proper deposition of calcium in the bones making them weak.
  • One of the obvious complications is related to the level of hormone level in the body. This leads to thyrotoxic crisis. It should be remembered that such problem becomes severe in case it is untreated.

Some of the other common complications involve fever, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, and jaundice. Patient may experience low blood pressure and may go to coma.

Conclusion

Graves' disease basically hampers the proper functioning of the immune system in a person's body producing antibodies even when they are not needed. This triggers the thyroid gland and makes it extremely active leading to hyperthyroidism. Precautions include quitting of smoking and try having a stress free life. The complications of Graves' disease may make the condition of a patient quite critical.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 16, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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