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A to Z: Graves Disease

Graves disease is a chronic (ongoing) condition where the body’s immune system causes the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormones than it should. Doctors call this hyperthyroidism.

More to Know

Thyroid hormones help control many body functions. When the thyroid isn’t working properly, it can affect a person’s organs and body systems, as well as growth and sexual development.

People with Graves disease might lose weight even though they’re eating more. Their eyes may be reddened or irritated, or look like they’re staring or bulging out. They might feel hot or sweaty, have a fast heartbeat, and feel nervous. People who have the disease may feel weaker or more tired than usual and have trouble sleeping. Girls might not get their periods as they should. The thyroid gland may also become swollen, causing a lump in the front of the neck called a goiter.

Keep in Mind

People can take medicine to keep thyroid hormone levels in the blood normal. If the disease doesn’t go away within a couple years on its own, doctors often suggest other treatments or surgery to shrink or remove the thyroid gland.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.