Graves' disease: an overview and more



If you have symptoms of Graves' disease, your healthcare provider will review your medical history for risk factors and then use various methods to make a diagnosis.

Generally, a physical exam and blood tests for thyroid function can determine that you have hyperthyroidism and can also narrow the cause to Graves' disease. In other cases, an imaging test or biopsy may be needed to distinguish Graves' disease from other types of hyperthyroidism.

Physical exam

On physical examination, Graves' disease manifests as an enlarged thyroid gland, increased heart rate, agitation, tremors, rapid reflexes, and possibly soft, clammy skin. These are all signs of hyperthyroidism, but they don't confirm that you have Graves' disease.

If you have ophthalmopathy or dermopathy, your healthcare provider may have a higher suspicion that you have Graves' disease, but they can occur with other types of hyperthyroidism as well. Similarly, a goiter suggests you may have Graves' disease, but it doesn't rule out another thyroid disorder.

The combination of goiter, ophthalmopathy, and dermopathy (or acropathy) is more indicative of Graves' disease.

Blood test

The most common thyroid tests include TSH, thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3). Low TSH with high T4 and / or high T3 is typical of hyperthyroidism. Your healthcare provider may also ask you to have thyroid antibody tests.

Visual tests

Graves' disease can cause a change in the appearance of the thyroid gland that can be distinguished from a normal thyroid gland or other thyroid disorders. Imaging tests used to evaluate Graves' disease may include ultrasound, x- ray , computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans .

You can also get radioactive iodine before imaging because iodine enters the thyroid gland and can help improve the gland's visualization .


If your diagnosis is still uncertain, you may have a biopsy, in which a tissue sample is taken for examination under a microscope. A biopsy is especially helpful if your doctor +

worried about thyroid cancer.

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