Battling Graves’ Disease: When Everything Changed Podcast

Graves DiseaseIn this episode of When Everything Changed, we hear from Madelinea graduate student who was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. During her summer break from school, she started experiencing nausea, frequent hunger, weight loss, overheating, and muscle weakness. When the symptoms did not clear up on their own, she wisely decided to seek medical help. Her doctor ran tests and found that her thyroid numbers were out of the normal range (the thyroid gland is found at the base of the neck and produces hormones that affect all aspects of the body including metabolism). Her doctor recommended an endocrinologist, a specialist who provides treatment for the thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease

The endocrinologist diagnosed her with hyperthyroidism, which means that her body produces an excess amount of thyroid hormone. Graves’ disease is often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism.

After an unsuccessful anti-thyroid medication treatment, the next step was to implement radioactive iodine therapy, which works by destroying thyroid tissue cells thereby reducing the thyroid hormone levels. The iodine therapy was successful in regulating her symptoms. However, Madeline’s thyroid will never go back to normal. She will be dependent upon a thyroid-producing medication for the rest of her life.

Despite the shock and significant emotional distress this sudden malady caused, she remains grateful for the constant support from her family and physicians. By focusing on listening to her body and dedicating more time to self-care and nutrition, she’s improving the quality of her life on a daily basis.

In this episode we discuss:

1.     The complications of hyperthyroidism

2.     Battling the emotional complications of Graves’ Disease

3.     The importance of receiving the care that you need

Thank you for listening!

When Everything Changed PodcastDid this story move you? If so, please share it. Do you have a health turning point story you want to share? Email us at wheneverythingchanged@ghc.orgWhen Everything Changed is a production of Kaiser Permanente.