Graves' Disease (cont.)
What causes Graves' disease?
Many factors are thought to play a role in getting Graves' disease. These
- Genes. Some people are prone to Graves' disease because of their
Researchers are working to find the gene or genes involved.
- Gender. Sex hormones might play a role, and might explain why Graves'
disease affects more women than men.
- Stress. Severe emotional stress or trauma might trigger the onset of
Graves' disease in people who are prone to getting it.
- Pregnancy. Pregnancy affects the thyroid. As many as 30 percent of young
women who get Graves' disease have been pregnant in the 12 months prior to the
onset of symptoms. This suggests that pregnancy might trigger Graves' disease in
- Infection. Infection might play a role in the onset of Graves' disease, but
no studies have shown infection to directly cause Graves' disease.
How do I find out if I have Graves' disease?
Most people with Graves' disease have symptoms that are bothersome. If you
have symptoms of Graves' disease, your doctor will do an exam and order one or
more tests. Tests used to help find out if you have Graves' disease include:
- Thyroid function tests. A blood sample is sent to a lab to see if your body
has the right amount of thyroid hormone (T4) and TSH. A high level of thyroid
hormone in the blood plus a low level of TSH is a sign of overactive thyroid.
Sometimes, routine screening of thyroid function reveals mild overactive thyroid
in a person without symptoms. In such cases, doctors might suggest treatment or
watchful waiting to see if levels return to normal.
- Radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU). An RAIU tells how much iodine the thyroid
takes up. The thyroid takes up iodine and uses it to make thyroid hormone. A
high uptake suggests Graves' disease. This test can be helpful in ruling out
other possible causes of overactive thyroid.
- Antibody tests. A blood sample is sent to a lab to look for antibodies that
suggest Graves' disease.
Graves' disease can be hard to diagnose during pregnancy because it has many
of the same symptoms as normal pregnancy, like fatigue and heat intolerance.
Also, some lab tests can be harder to interpret. Plus, doctors cannot use RAIU
during pregnancy to rule out other causes.
Viewers share their comments
Graves' Disease - Symptoms
Question: What were the symptoms associated with your Graves' disease?
Graves' Disease - Causes
Question: What was the possible cause of your Graves' disease?
Graves' Disease - Treatment
Question: How is your Graves' disease treated? What medications do you take?
Graves' Disease - Pregnancy
Question: Please discuss how you managed your Graves' disease during your pregnancy.