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Graves disease

  • Definition

    Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).


    Alternative Names

    Diffuse thyrotoxic goiter


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The thyroid gland is an important organ of the endocrine system. It is located in the front of the neck just below the voice box. This gland releases the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control body metabolism. Controlling metabolism is critical for regulating mood, weight, and mental and physical energy levels.

    If the body makes too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. (An underactive thyroid leads to hypothyroidism.)

    Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is caused by an abnormal immune system response that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormones. Graves disease is most common in women over age 20. However, the disorder may occur at any age and may affect men as well.