While it is most common in females over age 20, Graves' disease can occur in either sex at any age, explains MedlinePlus. In younger individuals with Graves’ disease, the eyeballs may bulge and the individual experiences anxiety, difficulty concentrating, heat intolerance and difficulty sleeping. Older individuals sometimes experience chest pain, irregular heartbeat, memory loss, weakness or fatigue.
Graves’ disease is the leading cause of the body producing too much thyroid hormone. The condition takes its name from Sir Robert Graves, who first described it in the early 19th century. While it causes discomfort, with prompt treatment, the condition has no serious long-term effects, according to WebMD. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disorder, notes MedlinePlus. An abnormal immune system causes the thyroid to increase production of the thyroid hormone.
Treatments for Graves’ disease include radioactive iodine, beta blockers, antithyroid medications and surgery, states Mayo Clinic. The radioactive iodine destroys some of the thyroid cells to regulate the production of the hormone while surgery removes the thyroid. Beta blockers block the effect of the hormone on the body and antithyroid medications interfere with the gland’s ability to use iodine and produce the hormone. Because Graves’s disease causes problems with the eyes that do not always improve with treatments for the disease, some people require care for Graves’ ophthalmopathy. This care may include the use of over-the-counter artificial tears, prism eyeglasses or surgery.