Unless you’re already diagnosed, you’re most likely not too familiar with Graves’ disease. It’s an autoimmune disorder, one that influences the function of the thyroid: the butterfly-shaped gland in your throat that controls your body’s regulation of energy. The condition commonly leads to hyperthyroidism (when your thyroid gland is overactive, and too much of the thyroid hormone is produced). If left untreated, Graves’ puts you at an increased risk of a number of health issues, including osteoporosis, heart issues and complications during pregnancy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, while the disorder can affect anybody, it most often occurs in women. Luckily, Graves’ disease – and the hyperthyroidism that might result – is treatable. Here’s a list of five common symptoms of Graves’ disease that every woman should know about.
If you have Graves’ disease, your symptoms might appear similar to those of hyperthyroidism. One of the most common of these is weight loss. Hyperthyroidism causes your metabolism to speed up, resulting in quick weight loss. If you’ve noticed a sudden drop on the scale, even if you haven’t been trying to lose weight, you might be exhibiting a sign of Graves’.
Anxiety and irritability
Another common sign of both Graves’ and hyperthyroidism is anxiety. An individual with Graves’ might feel abnormally on edge, feeling frustrated or nervous over little things. If your anxiety is strangely amped up, it might worth getting your thyroid checked.
Change in menstrual cycles
Often, women with Graves’ disease and/or hyperthyroidism experience a change in their menstrual cycle. Any kind of shift from your normal cycle might indicate that something’s up with your thyroid function, and should prompt a checkup.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about 30 percent of individuals with Graves’ disease exhibit symptoms of something called Graves’ ophthalmology. This condition affects muscles and tissues around eyes, the inflammation leading to noticeably bulging eyes. If you experience this symptom, you might also feel gritty sensations or pain in your eyes, light sensitivity and vision loss.
Another symptom unique to Graves’ disease a condition called Graves’ dermopathy, or a thickening and reddening of the skin. The rash most often appears on the shins and on top of the feet. Although uncommon, it’s a telltale warning sign of Graves’ disease, and should be reported to your healthcare professional to be treated accordingly.