Do you have hyperthyroid or Graves disease symptoms?
Most doctors base their Graves disease diagnosis on a low TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone), anywhere below 1.8.
Other conditions can lower the TSH, so antibodies and patient presentation also need to be evaluated to make sure someone really has the disease.
Sometimes hyperthyroidism has no symptoms at all, but here is a list of symptoms that a doctor would consider when making a diagnosis:
Ultimately Graves disease is an autoimmune disease and is caused by the body attacking itself. The thyroid regulates just about every function in your body, so if it is overactivated it speeds everything up.
The receptors on the thyroid get overactivated by thyroid receptor antibodies that allow too much Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) into the cell, thus lowering the amount of TSH that is present in the blood. When the doctor checks the blood of someone with a hyperthyroid, their TSH levels will be very low because it has already flooded into the thyroid cells. This also creates a feedback loop that tells the brain it doesn’t need to make anymore TSH, so the brain stops sending signals to make it.
At the same time, the small amount of TSH being made is still enough to flood the thyroid gland because thyroid receptor antibodies are making the receptors stay open. This massive dose of hormone tells the cells to produce way more T4 and T3 than your body needs and over-activates your basal metabolic activity.
T4 and T3 are the thyroid hormones that let your thyroid tell the rest of your body to turn on or turn off. When there is too much T4 and T3 it makes everything in your body turn on too much and thus burns extreme amounts of energy. This is why people with Graves are always hot, sweating, and can't gain weight.
Graves disease is often misdiagnosed. Many doctors prescribe drugs or surgery based solely on a low TSH. The problem is all kinds of issues can also cause low TSH levels. Issues with high stress and sugar regulation can shut down proper neurotransmitter flow in the brain, which in turn makes you have a low TSH.
Patients will swing from hypothyroid to hyperthyroid depending on their diet, environmental issues, and as thyroid cells inflame and die off. So depending where a patient is during that cycle, their blood work could appear like hypothyroid or hyperthyroid.
Commonly they are really a reactive hypothyroid patient who is presenting like they have an overactive thyroid. True Graves will have a positive Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin (TSI) test. If a patient had only a TSH test, it's possible they might really be a reactive hypothyroid patient and not a true Graves patient.
If it is found a person has true Graves disease they need to stay under the care of a good endocrinologist. This disease is serious and people should not attempt to self-diagnose this condition over the Internet. Graves can turn fatal from a side effect called a thyroid storm.
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