Graves' disease can develop when the body's immune system interferes with the regulation of thyroid hormone and produces an excessive amount (hyperthyroidism). The onset of the disease is more common in people under the age of 40, and women experience it more often than men. The most well-known symptoms of Graves' disease is bulging eyes and an enlarged thyroid gland across the front of the neck, known as a goiter. The hormones produced in the thyroid affect many parts of the body, so symptoms of this autoimmune condition are diverse.
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Often, people with Graves' disease have anxious and irritable feelings, combined with a fast or irregular heartbeat. Some people with the condition will experience tremors in the hands, frequent bowel movements, and fatigue. Other symptoms include decreased sex drive and changes in the menstrual cycle. Oversensitivity to heat can make people with Graves' disease consistently feel as though the temperature of the room is much higher than it really is. This occurs because the hormone produced in the thyroid increases metabolism and thereby body temperature. Increased metabolism is also to blame for the otherwise unexplained weight loss many people with Graves' disease experience. Vision problems such as double vision are also common.
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