Graves Eye Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More
What is Graves eye disease?
How does it come about, what are its causes and risk factors, what signs and symptoms are typically present, and what are the treatment options for sufferers of the condition?
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A note about Graves Eye Disease - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More
In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.
In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.
Most commonly affecting the thyroid, Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that can affect the shins, the reproductive organs, and even the nervous system, tricking the body into attacking itself. It causes the thyroid to overwork, growing to twice its natural size.
It is seen more in women than men, appearing between the ages of 20 and 45, and in women, after going through child birth.
An approximate million people in the US are diagnosed with Graves' disease each year. Why white blood cells attack the thyroid gland remains a mystery. The thyroid, however, responds by secreting thyroid hormone in excess amounts, which not only causes the gland to enlarge, but the constant hormone release increases metabolism. This is characterized by fast heart rate, sporadic palpitations and sweating accompanied by high blood pressure, irritability and chronic fatigue.
Because the attack often targets eye muscles and their connective tissue, the eyesight, and other related conditions, is particularly vulnerable. This is believed to occur because proteins found in the eye tissue appear similar to that of the thyroid. Other effects can include weight loss, an intolerance of heat, and either loss of hair or a noticeable difference in its quality.
So, in a sense, Graves eye disease is Graves' disease which affects the eyes.
Grave's disease can also cause the eye to bulge because of swelling in the tissues located behind the eyeballs. While ocular symptoms can be quite severe, just a small percentage (10 to 20) ever progress to sight threatening. Another tissue that can be targeted by an immune attack is the skin surrounding the shins.
Cigarette smokers can be significantly more at risk of Graves eye disease than those who do not smoke. Their symptoms are often more severe and, if left untreated, can lead to impaired vision. Second hand smoke exposure is associated with increased risk of Graves eye disease, too.
There is also a hereditary factor with Grave's disease to such a point that it has been proven if one twin (identical) has the disease, there is a 25% chance the other will as well.
The ocular symptoms specific to Grave's eye disease typically include soft tissue inflammation, exposure of the cornea, optic nerve compression and proptosis, which is the protrusion of one or both eyes globes. More general symptoms might be eye lid retraction or lag or a delay in eyelid closure while looking down. Severe cases can result in thyroid poisoning.
Management of Grave's eye disease must be individualized from patient to patient and, after any agonizing symptoms are dealt with, must focus on getting control of the underlying thyroid condition. While sight changes may be subtle, causing only small change initially, treatment should take place as soon as possible as it will eventually deteriorate. Steroids are the common medical treatment, though it does not always stop eye trouble progression.
The bottom line of Grave's eye disease treatment is to control the over activity of the thyroid. Secondary treatments of beta-blockers are generally used for anxiety, sweating and rapid heart beating. This as well as alternative medicines (homeopathy or acupuncture), dietary changes and stress management techniques should not be overlooked, as if you opt for radiation or surgery you will, undoubtedly, need replacement thyroid hormones for the rest of your life.
More can be learnt about Graves' disease from the other related Graves' disease articles and pages on this website.
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