Frequently Asked Questions About Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Disease

Here are some commonly asked questions that may help give you a better understanding of both Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Graves’ disease

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Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the thyroid by mistake and causes it to become overactive. This is known as hyperthyroidism. The overactive thyroid makes more thyroid hormone than your body needs, which can cause a number of health problems such as heart complications and weaker bones.

Have Graves’ disease and eye symptoms? You may also have a different condition called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED).

Spot TED symptoms

Graves’ disease can be diagnosed through:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood samples to test the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone
  • Radioactive iodine uptake to measure the rate at which the thyroid absorbs iodine. This can show if the thyroid is overactive or underactive 
  • Imaging tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan, or magnetic resonance imagery (MRI)

Did you know that up to 50% of people with Graves’ disease will also develop Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)?

Learn about TED

Many of the factors that cause Graves’ disease are still unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Learn more about the causes of Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease can affect the body in many ways, including: 

  • Feeling tired
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to heat

If you have Graves’ disease and eye symptoms, you may have Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Observing and tracking your symptoms is important, but you have to know what to watch for.

Learn about TED symptoms

There are currently 3 ways doctors are treating Graves’ disease:

  • Radioactive iodine, also known as radioiodine
  • Antithyroid medicines
  • Surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid

Learn more about treatment options for Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease itself is not fatal, but can cause serious health problems, including heart disease and weaker bones.

Did you know that up to 50% of people with Graves’ disease will develop Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)?

Learn more about TED

It is not known whether Graves’ disease can be cured, but it can be managed with regular treatment.

Learn about treatment options for Graves’ disease

People who have a family history of Graves’ disease have a higher risk of developing it. However, not everyone who has a family history of Graves’ disease will get it.

Did you know Graves’ disease is a risk factor for developing Thyroid Eye Disease?

Are you at risk?

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid by mistake, causing it to become overactive and make too much thyroid hormone.

Many people with Graves’ disease also develop another autoimmune condition called Thyroid Eye Disease.

Figure out if you are at risk

Graves’ eye disease, also known as Thyroid Eye Disease, describes the separate eye disease that up to 50% of patients with Graves’ disease may develop.

If you have Graves’ disease and also have eye symptoms, you may have TED.

The sooner you spot TED symptoms, the better. Observe and track your symptoms and tell your doctor about all of them.

3 ways to track TED symptoms

If you have Graves’ disease, you may notice changes to your eyes. These changes can include dry, gritty eyes, watery eyes, and even bulging eyes.

These symptoms are likely caused by a separate eye condition called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Up to 50% of people with Graves’ disease will develop TED.

Learn more about what causes bulging eyes in TED.

Do you have Graves’ disease? You may be at a higher risk for developing Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Learn the symptoms of TED so you can spot them.

Symptoms of TED

TED Symptoms throat icon TED Symptoms throat icon

In addition to Graves’ disease, there is another condition that affects the thyroid called Hashimoto’s disease. These are some commonly asked questions about Hashimoto’s disease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hashimoto’s disease

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Like Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease is another autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid.

While Graves’ disease causes an overactive thyroid (making more thyroid hormone than the body needs), Hashimoto’s disease causes an underactive thyroid (making less thyroid hormone than the body needs). This is also known as hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s disease affects 5 out of every 100 people (5%) in the United States. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Do you have Hashimoto’s disease? You may be at risk for developing Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Figure out your possible risk with a few questions.

Take the TED Risk Survey

Doctors can diagnose Hashimoto’s disease in multiple ways:

  • Physical exam of the thyroid (will usually reveal a thyroid that is too large)
  • Blood tests check levels of a specific thyroid antibody
  • Ultrasound uses sound waves and a computer to create a picture of your thyroid. This is used to see if there are physical changes to your thyroid that could cause Hashimoto’s disease
  • Imaging tests, such as an MRI or a CT scan, usually aren’t necessary. However, your doctor may order them if Hashimoto’s disease is suspected but other types of tests don’t show anything

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include:

  • Enlarged thyroid, also known as a goiter
  • Fatigue (tiredness) and sluggishness
  • Weight gain
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Memory problems
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Puffy face

Hashimoto’s disease can increase your risk of Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Learn the common symptoms of TED so you can observe and track them.

Learn about TED symptoms

There are 2 main ways doctors treat Hashimoto’s disease:

  • Thyroid hormone medicine to increase the body’s thyroid hormone levels
  • Surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid

If your Hashimoto’s disease isn’t causing serious symptoms or if your thyroid is working properly, your doctor may monitor your condition to see if it gets worse before starting you on any treatment.