Graves' disease - symptoms and therapy

Symptoms of Graves' disease

The course and severity of the disease can be very different. In the foreground are the complaints as a result of thyroid enlargement and hyperfunction. These include above all:

  • faster, sometimes irregular pulse
  • Trembling of the hands
  • heat sensitivity
  • Tendency to sweat
  • nervousness
  • weight loss

Change of eyes in Graves' disease

In about half of the patients of Graves' disease, visual disturbances and eye changes are added. These are characterized by a "gaze" with protruding eyes (exophthalmos), reddened, burning, oppressive eyes and sometimes impaired muscle and visual function.

The swelling can be so pronounced that no eyelid closure is possible. These eye symptoms are also referred to as "endocrine opthalmopathy".

Merseburg-Triassic due to Graves' disease

Less common are symptoms due to the immune disorders, which in principle can affect all organs and can not always be clearly assigned. The Merseburg Triassic is the classical combination of three main symptoms:

  • thyroid enlargement
  • exophthalmus
  • Fast pulse

Diagnosis of Basedow's disease

Often the medical history and symptoms are so typical that in addition to the physical examination only blood tests must be performed. In particular, thyroid hormones and various antibodies against the thyroid tissue (TRAK, TPO-AK) are determined.

Ultrasound can be used to visualize tissue and blood flow. This may be followed by a scintigraphy to assess the metabolic activity and function of the thyroid gland.

Therapy of Graves' disease

In some cases it will cure without treatment, but the disease can break out over and over again. If the overfunction persists, therapy is inevitable - otherwise there is a risk that a life-threatening "thyrotoxic crisis" develops. The treatment is based on the suppression of hyperfunction.

Therapeutic options include medicines as well as radioiodine treatment, in which the thyroid tissue is radioactively irradiated and thus destroyed, as well as the partial or complete surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Sometimes the therapy produces hyperthyroidism, which in turn has to be adjusted by medication.

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