Healthy Living: Graves' Disease
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If you suddenly lost a little bit of weight, most of us wouldn't complain, but it could be a sign of a thyroid problem.
Endocrinologist Dr. James DeSimone is talking about Graves’ disease. It affects more women than men, and it's caused by an over production of the thyroid gland.
"In Graves’ disease, it's a type of auto-immune disease and you make antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to pick up more iodine and make more thyroid hormones and speed you up," said Dr. DeSimone.
Thyroid hormone affects every part of the body. Too much speeds up the metabolic system; weight loss and rapid heartbeats are common symptoms.
"It changes the way your hair follicles make hair. It might make bad hair so your hair will fall out. It will change the way your finger nails grow because depends on metabolic rate also. It can make your skin dry, or soft or moist," said Dr. DeSimone. "If left untreated it can be fatal. It's like a car engine idling at high speed. If left untreated there are problems with heart irregular heartbeats, stroke and heart attacks."
Treatment can include medications and surgery to remove the thyroid gland as well as melting it away.
There is good news: Graves’ disease is curable. The caveat is you have to be on medication your entire life.