Graves’ Disease Symptoms and How I Took Control of My Health

By Danielle Macdonald

Graves' Disease is an all-encompassing autoimmune disorder. It affects so much within our bodies, and our minds. It steals everything from you, and does not offer much in return.

For any autoimmune disease it can take years to be diagnosed. For myself, it took roughly one year of going to multiple doctors to finally have an answer. I have heard from many others sufferers that waited much longer to be diagnosed. If you google the symptoms of Graves' Disease you are given a wide range of symptoms, that can easily be mistaken for other issues. I'm here today to provide a list of 5 key symptoms.

These 5 symptoms will mainly relate to my experience and my story.  Of course, symptoms may be different for everyone within their journey.

1) Anxiety, anxiety, and more anxiety- for me this was the biggest symptom. Graves' Disease causes an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) which in turn makes your body overproduce thyroid stimulating hormone. So... your body is freaking the f**k out and is trying to tell you something is wrong. Anytime someone tells me they are starting to randomly experience anxiety, my first reaction is to tell them to get blood work done for their TSH.

2) Weight Loss- this symptom can actually be different for everyone. Some people may have hyperthyroidism or Graves' Disease and still gain weight. For me losing weight was another key symptom. I was already a smaller frame but I went from a healthy 110 to 95 pounds. Depending on the progress of your disease- you may lose weight slowly over time, or lose a lot of weight in a short period of time.

3) Hot, so freaking hot- Graves' Disease affects everything. Including your internal thermostat. My body was no longer capable of cooling itself off. You may sweat more easily, have cool moist skin, and just overall feel increased temperature. The summer time was pure hell for me, it made me sweat more, I was cranky, and it made me lose weight faster.

4) Fast heart rate- This was my worst symptom along with anxiety. Since your body is in overdrive and producing so much thyroid hormone, it causes your heart rate to increase. You may experience heart palpitations, higher resting heart rate. I remember sitting in the hospital with a blood pressure of 160/90 and a heart rate of 175. I was terrified. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. My resting heart rate was never lower than 110, and standing up or moving would cause it to easily get to 150/160.

5) So angry- There is a term used to describe the anger you feel when you have Graves' Disease. It is called Graves' Rage. I mean why wouldn't you feel rage? You are hot and sweaty, full of anxiety, have thumper for a heart rate, and can't stop using the bathroom every 10 minutes, so yeah you are pissed. Graves' Rage can cause so much emotional harm to you or your loved ones. I ruined a few friendships when I was still unmedicated for my thyroid. I honestly felt like a shell of a person. When I look back at who I was before medicated, I actually cringe. Graves' Rage is not your fault, and once you are stable it will get easier.

The good news is that we can treat Graves' Disease! Treatment is different for everyone, and should be discussed thoroughly with your medical team.
You may choose the path of medication. It may vary in different countries but I was on Methimazole. Essentially the medication you are taking will suppress your overactive thyroid hormones. This will hopefully allow your body to come out of a hyper state and start healing! Sometimes medication can cause adverse reactions, and other times it may just not work for you and your healing. This is where other options are available to you: Partial Thyroidectomy (leaving half your thyroid intact) Full Thyroidectomy (full removal) or Radioactive Iodine Treatment (killing the thyroid cells). Surgery or radiation will leave you hypothyroid and reliant on levothyroxine or synthroid.

This will help your body to start the long journey in healing and getting to your healthiest self. You may never return to your old self. Your life will be forever changed, but you can regain a sense of who you are now. This will be a long and hard road, but I promise you will see the light again one day!

Danielle is on Instagram @life_without_thyroid and be sure to check out her blog!

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Danielle Macdonald

After suffering for years undiagnosed with Graves' Autoimmune Disease, and Hashimotos Disease, I started to share my story with others that were suffering. I have become a support system for anyone going undiagnosed with an autoimmune disease. With my journey and personal experience, I am guiding others to help them get answers and a diagnosis. Since sharing my story I have helped numerous people reach a diagnosis and start getting back to their healthiest self before thyroid issues stole their body!

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