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Sia and Graves' disease

Last updated date: 03-Jun-2022

Graves' disease
CloudHospital

10 mins read

Sia and Graves' disease

Grave’s disease most commonly develops in women as well as people with family history of thyroid disorders, people with other autoimmune conditions, and women during pregnancy or who recently went through childbirth. Studies show that 1 in 200 people suffers from Graves’ disease. Due to hormonal factors, women are more prone than men into suffering from it.

 

What is Graves’ disease?

According to the American Thyroid Association, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that leads to a generalized overactivity of the entire thyroid gland or “hyperthyroidism”. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is named after Robert Graves, an Irish physician, who described this form of hyperthyroidism about 150 years ago and it occurs 7 to 8 times more commonly in women than men.

More specifically, Graves’ disease is triggered by a process in the body’s immune system, which normally protects us from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. The immune system destroys foreign invaders with substances called antibodies produced by blood cells known as lymphocytes. Sometimes the immune system can be triggered into making antibodies that cross-react with proteins on our own healthy cells. In many cases these antibodies can cause destruction of those cells. In Graves’ disease these antibodies (called the thyrotropin receptor antibodies (“TRAb”) or thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins (“TSI”) do the opposite which cause the cells to overwork. The antibodies produced due to Graves’ disease bind to receptors on the surface of thyroid cells and stimulate those cells to overproduce and release thyroid hormones, which results in an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

Some common symptoms are:

Hyperthyroidism

The majority of symptoms of Graves’ disease are caused by the excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. These may include, but are not limited to, racing heartbeat, hand tremors, trouble sleeping, weight loss, muscle weakness, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and heat intolerance.

Graves' disease eyes

Graves’ disease is the only kind of hyperthyroidism that can be associated with inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the tissues around the eyes and bulging of the eyes. Overall, a third of patients with Graves’ disease develop some signs and symptoms of Graves’ eye disease but only 5% have moderate-to-severe inflammation of the eye tissues to cause serious or permanent vision trouble. Eye symptoms most often begin about six months before or after the diagnosis of Graves’ disease has been made. Seldom do eye problems occur long after the disease has been treated. In some patients with eye symptoms, hyperthyroidism never develops and, rarely, patients may be hypothyroid. The severity of the eye symptoms is not related to the severity of the hyperthyroidism.

Early signs of trouble might be red or inflamed eyes, a bulging of the eyes due to inflammation of the tissues behind the eyeball or double vision. Symptoms are aggravated for people who smoke cigarettes.

Skin disease

Rarely, patients with Graves’ disease develop a lumpy reddish thickening of the skin in front of the shins known as pretibial myxedema (“Graves’ dermopathy”). This skin condition is usually painless and relatively mild, but it can be painful for some. Like the eye trouble of Graves’ disease, the skin problem does not necessarily begin precisely when the hyperthyroidism starts. Its severity is not related to the level of thyroid hormone.

 

Treatment for graves disease

Treatment options to control Graves’ disease include antithyroid drugs (generally methimazole “Tapazole”, although propylthiouracil (“PTU”) may be used in rare instances such as the first trimester of pregnancy), radioactive iodine and surgery.

Antithyroid medications are typically preferred in patients who have a high likelihood of remission (women, mild disease, small goiters, negative or low titer of antibodies). These medications do not cure Graves’ hyperthyroidism, but when given in adequate doses are effective in controlling the hyperthyroidism.

If methimazole is chosen, it can be continued for 12-18 months and then discontinued if TSH and TRAb levels are normal at that time. If TRAb levels remain elevated, the chances of remission are much lower and prolonging treatment with antithyroid drugs is safe and may increase chances of remission. Long term treatment of hyperthyroidism with antithyroid drugs may be considered in selected cases.

If your hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease persists after 6 months, definitive treatment with either radioactive iodine or surgery may be recommended.

If surgery (thyroidectomy) is selected as the treatment, the surgery should be performed by a skilled surgeon with expertise in thyroid surgery.

 

Personalities that have been diagnosed for Graves’ disease

Sia Kate Isobelle Furler is a multi-Grammy Award nominated superstar singer, songwriter, voice actress and director from Australia. She is most recently famous for her chart-topping song “Chandelier” in 2015. She publicly stated that she had been diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by an over-active thyroid. Sia said she is undergoing thyroid hormone replacement therapy and that as a result, her health is improving.

Melissa Arnette Elliot, who is an American rapper, songwriter and record producer and whom has won a Grammy Award for Best Female Rap Solo Performance is another example of celebrity that has fought against Graves’ disease. She has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease only after she was about to crash her car, due to tremors that have made her unable to control her feet and hands while driving. Additionally, while sharing her story regarding the fight with this disease, she has mentioned that she has felt like her “nervous system shut down” and that beside the fact that her hair was falling out, each day, when she was waking up she had the sensation that her eyes are fulfilled with rocks. Missy Elliot (her stage name) has received radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment that seems to keep her disease under control, as she is implicated in various projects at this time.

There have been reported other personalities such as the athlete Gail Devers or the singer Toni Childs that have been suffering from the Graves’ disease, but have been treating and keeping the disease under control.

One of the most notorious and intriguing cases of personalities that have been through the fight with Graves’ disease is George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara.

Barbara Bush was the first among the presidential couple to contract Greaves’ disease. Her symptoms started to appear during 1989. After a lifetime struggle of losing weight, she has suddenly lost 18 pounds (approximately 9 kg). At first, she thought that it was the result of eating smaller portions, but the weight loss was quickly followed by problems with her eyes and her eyesight; her eyes were inflamed and bulging and, sometimes, she was seeing everything doubled. The following year of her life was marked by a complex process of trial and error, using both drugs and radiation. Though she was kept under strict medical surveillance, the First Lady has kept on suffering from the burden of the symptoms for decades.

After two years since Barbara Bush has been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, her husband, the President of the United States of America, George H.W. Bush has been diagnosed with the same disease that has caused him an overactive thyroid. As his wife, Bush has lost 8 pounds in a two week period, which were disproportionate to his exercise levels and diet. Moreover, his secretary has noticed the fact that he’s hand was shivering and he had difficulties in writing. The President’s main symptoms have appeared at almost two months after the cease fire of the Gulf War. While jogging, Bush has encountered irregular heartbeats and shortness of breath and he has been taken to the hospital, where he got diagnosed for the Graves’ disease.

The rumours has it that the effects of the President overactive thyroid have been noticed before the Gulf War, as news reporters described Bush’ as being fulfilled with energy, as he was all of a sudden highly interested in sportive activities. If so, it means that the President Bush has contracted the disease at months after his wife, though the odds for it to happen are very low, as men are less prone to contract it. If this scenario is valid, some would say that the Graves’ disease has installed in the President‘s Bush body during one of the most stressful period of his presidency, the period prior to the Gulf War.

Partners that are both diagnosed with Graves’ disease, such as the Bushes, are known as “Conjugal Graves’ disease. In these cases, which are not a common thing, it is thought that the reasons of contracting the disease are related to environmental factors, such as toxins or too much iodine and other chemicals in the water. Though the White House has been completely tested and verified for such life altering elements, there were none found. Therefore, it is thought that both of the Bushes had a genetic predisposition and viral infections could have played an important role, in this case.

Moreover, the dog of the Presidential couple, Millie, has been found of suffering from lupus, which is also an autoimmune disease. After information about the pet suffering from lupus, the White House has received a lot of letters from fellow Americans that were indicating many other couples that had the Graves’ disease and whose pets were suffering from lupus.

Nowadays, there is more and more evidence that links infection, precisely infection with a retrovirus, with Graves’ disease. The level of antibodies in the patient’s system could determine the connection between a retrovirus and Graves’ disease. It has been found out that both the President George H.W. Bush and his wife had high levels of antibodies to the virus in their systems. As it has never been officially proven the correlation between the virus and the cause of the Presidential couple’s health condition, there are strong arguments that encourage the idea that infection by a virus contributed to their Graves’ disease.

As doctors still do not know what exactly causes the Graves’ disease, the intriguing case of the Bush couple could easily illustrate the difficulty of highlighting the triggering factor. In the situation of the former Presidential couple, most probably, the Graves’ disease has been triggered by a combination of infection caused by a retrovirus and high levels of stress, generated, maybe, by the Gulf crisis.

These are just some of the numerous persons affected by this disease, but there are hundreds of millions other people that suffer from the same cause and they are not getting treatment for it.

 

Conclusion

In order to maintain the burdensome of symptoms low, in case of suffering from a disease such as Graves’, it is highly recommended to seek for medical help as soon as possible. It is also very important to present the situation to prestigious and experienced doctors that can recommend the treatment options to you, including the logistics, benefits, and potential side effects, expected speed of recovery and costs. Although each treatment has its advantages and disadvantages, most patients will find one treatment plan that is right for them.

But if patients can’t find a suitable treatment for their medical need in their local region, they can easily travel abroad to find what they are looking for. There are many countries where healthcare services are very competitive, in terms of high quality of treatments and affordability. In order to obtain the best outcomes of the medical services that patients receive abroad, it is best to have a team of medical tourism specialists along. They will ensure that each patient is obtaining the best tailor made services that would lift each one’s state of health.

Beside the fact that all the above mentioned personalities have in common the Graves’ disease, they also share the reason behind the ability to to improve their health and suppress the symptoms. They have been provided with quality medical services.

Untreated Graves’ disease can lead to irregular heartbeat, fever, severe weakness, profuse sweating, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting and low blood pressure.

As Barbara Bush has had the Graves’ disease for more decades and she died with it, not because of it, she is one of the best examples of how well people diagnosed with Graves’ disease can do if they receive proper treatment.

All in all, if you detect sudden changes in your body , such as weight loss or energy levels, and pain or any other unusual things, such as seeing double, consult a doctor as soon as possible. Even if the burdensome of the symptoms might not be eliminated completely, the hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease is, in general, controllable, and safely treated by experienced doctors with a high success rate.

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