Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease.

It most commonly affects the thyroid, causing it to grow to twice its size or more (goiter), be overactive, with related hyperthyroid symptoms such as increased heartbeat, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep, and irritability. It can also affect the eyes, causing bulging eyes (exophthalmos).

It affects other systems of the body, including the skin and reproductive organs. It affects up to 2% of the female population, often appears after childbirth, and has a female:male incidence of 5:1 to 10:1. It has a strong hereditary component; when one identical twin has Graves’ disease, the other twin will have it 25% of the time.

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke is associated with the eye manifestations but not the thyroid manifestations. Diagnosis is usually made on the basis of symptoms, although thyroid hormone tests may be useful, particularly to monitor treatment

GO is often mild and self-limiting, and probably declining in frequency, with only 3–5% of cases posing a threat to eyesight

  • The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. This gland is found in the neck inferior to (below) the thyroid cartilage (also known as the Adam’s apple in men) and at approximately the same level as the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid controls how quickly the body burns energy, makes proteins, and how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.
  • The thyroid is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary. The gland gets its name from the Greek word for “shield”, after the shape of the related thyroid cartilage. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) are the most common problems of the thyroid gland
  • What is a thyroid?
    • small, butterfly-shaped gland below the Adam’s apple.
  • What does the thyroid do?
    • controlling the body’s metabolism by regulating thyroid hormones (T4 and T3)
  • When something goes wrong..
    • if the gland produces too much hormone we term the condition Hyperthyroidism
      if the gland makes to little, we call this Hypothyroidism.
  • What is Graves?
    • Graves’ disease, is a condition in which the thyroid gland is hyperactive and the eyes are affected
    • Although Graves’ disease may develop at any age and in either sex, it most often affects women 20 to 60 years old
  • occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood (“hyper” means “too much”, “hypo” means “too low”)
  • 10 times more common in women
  • affects about 2% of all women in the United States.
  • Symptoms
    • fast heart rate
    • eyes may bulge forward
    1. nervousness
    • increased sweating
    • muscle weakness
    • trembling hands
    • weight loss
    • skin changes
    • increased frequency of bowel movements
    • decreased menstrual flow and less frequent menstrual flow


  • occurs when there is too little thyroid hormone in the blood
  • affects more than 5 million people
  • 10 times more common in women than in men
  • one out of every 4,000 infants is born hypothyroid
  • Symptoms
    • feeling slow or tired
    • drowsiness
    • poor memory
    • muscle cramps
    • dry and course skin
    • milky discharge from the brests
    • husky voice
    • feeling cold
    • slow heart rate
    • difficulty concentrating
    • weight gain
    • heavy menstrual flow
    • infertility
    • feeling depressed
  • When Graves’ disease affects the eyes, it is called Graves’ ophthalmopathy. Eyes may bulge or appear red and swollen.
  • The space between the lids (palpebral fissure) may widen. Excess tearing and discomfort may occur in either or both eyes (see below).
  • Patients may experience sensitivity to light, blurring or double vision, inflammation, or decreased movement.

The thyroid participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones, principally thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate the rate of metabolism and affect the growth and rate of function of many other systems in the body. Iodine and tyrosine are used to form both T3 and T4. The thyroid also produces the hormone calcitonin, which plays a role in calcium homeostasis.