On Wednesday afternoon, talk show host Wendy Williams announced that she was taking time off from “The Wendy Williams Show” due to her battle with Graves’ disease.
She revealed the news during her show, saying, “My doctor has prescribed … are you ready? As of today, three weeks of vacation. What? Who are you? I was pissed.”
Since then, people have flocked to their computers to learn more about the disease. By Thursday, the question “What is Graves’ Disease?” was trending on Google. Others searched for answers about its cause, the symptoms, and what you can eat if you have Graves’ disease.
Read on to learn more about the autoimmune disorder.
1. It Is One of the Most Common Types of Thyroid Problems
WebMD writes that Graves’ disease is one of the most common kinds of thyroid problems.
It is a leading cause of hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid produces excessive hormones. Excessive hormones typically lead to an overactive metabolism. With Graves’ disease, the body releases antibodies that “mimic” TSH, and forces the thyroid to work overtime, increasing the number of hormones in the body.
The reason why the immune system produces the aforementioned antibodies is unclear. According to WebMD, heredity likely plays a role. The outlet cites a study that shows that if one identical twin contracts the disease, there is a 20% likelihood the other will get it.
2. It Can Be Fatal If Left Untreated
Although WebMD writes that Graves’ disease can be easily treated once it has been detected, it can lead to “serious complications”, “even death” if left untreated.
There are many symptoms associated with Graves’ disease. Some include a goiter, trouble sleeping, irritability or nervousness, heat sensitivity, hand tremors, rapid heartbeat, thinning hair, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, and fatigue, according to Medicine Net.
According to a scholarly article titled “Hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease” by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, Graves’ disease is most common in women between ages 20 and 55. The causes of hyperthyroidism are far and ranging, but include a toxin in the pituitary gland, stress, slow oxidation with copper toxicity, and mercury or other toxic medal poisonings, among others.
3. There Are Three Typical Treatment Options
Endocrine Web reports that there are typically three treatment options for Graves’ disease: Antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine treatment, and/or surgery.
Antithyroid medicines, as the name suggests, helps prevent the thyroid from producing hormones. A serious side effect of many antithyroid medicines is agranulocytosis, which results in a loss of white blood cells.
Radioactive Iodine treatment is “given as a capsule or in a water-based solution.” It sometimes takes months for this method to be effective, and works by destroying thyroid tissue cells; thus reducing thyroid hormone levels. The concern is that patients may go on to suffer from hypothyroidism (when there aren’t enough hormones produced in the thyroid.)
The last option, according to Endocrine Web, is surgery. This is an option for people who cannot take medication or RAI, or for those who do not find success with the former options. Typically, part or the entire, thyroid is removed. If hypothyroidism results (which it often, if not always, does), a replacement hormone therapy is recommended each day.
4. Missy Elliot & President George H.W. Bush Also Struggled With the Disease
According to the New York Daily News, other celebrities who have struggled with the disease are rapper Missy Elliot, Olympic track and field athlete Gail Devers, and former President H.W. Bush.
Many people affected by thyroid disorders experience hair loss. On July 10, Wendy Williams spoke to People about wearing a wig, admitting that many people think its a “vanity thing.”
“There are a few symptoms of having thyroid disease that a lot of people aren’t aware of. Sometimes you get that goiter, which I think is the most obvious thing… but what people don’t understand is that thyroid disease is related to Graves disease… the other part is that you CAN get thinning hair. Not everyone has thinning hair…”
5. Foods like Berries, Dairy, and Protein Are Recommended
For those affected by Graves’ disease, many doctors recommended berries, dairy, and protein.
Endocrine Web states the best thing to do is stay away from foods that wont aggravate the illness. The outlet also makes sure to point out that Graves’ disease can’t be treated by diet alone.
Foods promoted by Endocrine Web are berries like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, which have many antioxidants that keep the immune system strong. Dairy products can also help when it comes to Graves’ disease as Graves’ “can cause bone loss”, and calcium helps rebuild those weak bones.
Foods to avoid are caffeine; any coffee, soda, tea, and chocolate, as they aggravate the symptoms.