Thyroid Hormones - Understanding Graves Disease Complications

Thyroid Hormones – Understanding Graves Disease Complications

Graves disease is an auto-immune disease characterised by the overproduction of thyroid hormones. There are many other diseases involving thyroid gland as well as some rare conditions that don’t actually involve thyroid gland itself but still can cause excessive production of thyroid hormones however Graves disease is by far the regarded as the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Hormone Production

Thyroid hormone production occurs only in response to secretion of another hormone called TSH from pituitary gland.TSH is secreted in a controlled manner which makes sure that that thyroid hormone production does not exceed above the normal limits. In case of Graves disease, our immune system becomes abnormal. It starts producing antibodies that can mimic the action of TSH. This causes excessive production of thyroid hormone thereby causing all the manifestations occurring secondary to it.

Graves Disease Symptoms

The symptoms commonly seen in the settings of Graves disease are palpitations, tremors of the hands, sweating, weight loss, frequent diarrhea, and restlessness, irritability, bulging out of the eyeballs and associated visual disturbances as well as sexual dysfunction.

Complications of Graves Disease:

Cardiac Problems

Hyperthyroidism is associated with rhythm disturbances of the heart. It can cause dysfunction of the SA node, the tissue that maintains the rhythm of the heart.

The most common rhythm disturbance seen in the settings of Graves disease is atrial fibrillation. It is the condition involving the upper two chambers of the heart called Atria whereby they start contracting very fast and in an irregular way. The blood can’t be pushed out of the heart effectively and starts pooling there. Once the blood start pooling, it may clot. The clot may ultimately be dislodged, carried in the arteries supplying brain, blocking them and thereby causing CVA. Atrial fibrillations are also found to increase the risk of congestive cardiac failure.

Thyroid Storm

Thyroid storm is a potentially life-threatening emergency situation that can occur in patients with Graves disease. It occurs due to release of large amounts of thyroid hormones in a very short period of time. The patients who either are not taking any treatment at all for Graves disease or are not adequately compliant to the prescribed medications are the ones particularly at risk of developing this condition.

The manifestations of thyroid storm includes are a high grade fever usually around 104 to 105 F, sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, confusion and altered mental status, tremors involving hands, and a very rapid heart rate. It may also result in shock, comma or even death in some cases.

Osteoporosis

Hyperthyroidism is amongst many other factors causing osteoporosis. This is because too much of thyroid hormones are found to increase the loss of calcium in the urine as well as stools thus decreasing the amount of calcium available for the deposition into the bones. As a result the bones become weak fragile and prone to fracture.

Complications in Pregnant Ladies

Pregnant ladies suffering from Graves disease without an adequate control of the thyroid hormone level can face a number of serious complications both for fetus as well as for themselves. Talking about fetus, Graves disease may cause thyroid dysfunction, inadequate growth and a premature delivery of the fetus. Talking about the mom, Graves disease may increase the risk of developing Preeclampsia, a condition characterised by the high blood pressure and passage of proteins in the urines that itself is associated with serious complications both for the kid as well as mom.

 

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