Graves' Disease Definition
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that can affect not only the thyroid, but also the eyes and skin. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body's immune system becomes misdirected and attacks the very organs, cells, or tissues that it is supposed to protect. In a person with Graves disease, the immune system makes an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI), which mimics thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and causes the thyroid to make more hormone than the body needs.
Graves' disease is the most common cause of overactive thyroid in the United States. Common symptoms include nervousness, anxiety, increased sweating, and weight loss. Treatment options will vary, depending on a person's specific situation, but may include surgery, medication, or radioiodine therapy.
(For a more detailed definition, click Graves' Disease. This article also discusses topics such as how the condition is diagnosed, who is at risk, and how hormones are produced in the thyroid gland.)