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Word Count: 722
Graves disease is a basic defect in the immune system causing antibodies which stimulate and attack the thyroid gland causing growth of the gland and overproduction of thyroid hormone These antibodies may also attack the tissues in the eye muscle and pretibial skin causing protruding eyes opthalmopathy and dermopathy thickening of the skin over the front of the legs The thyroid gland is located in the neck It manufactures two thyroid hormones that are essential for metabolism and growth The thyroid takes iodine from the food we eat and uses it to make thyroid hormones If thyroid hormones are in short supply a person feels sluggish has a slow heartbeat and can even feel depressed This condition hypothyroidism Too much thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism and is also a problem This condition is almost the exact opposite of hypothyroidism The individual has a fast heartbeat weight loss nervousness and heat intolerance In addition hyperthyroidism can affect the eye One of the conditions that results in hyperthyroidism is Graves disease This condition afflicts a great many people In this disease the thyroid gland enlarges and releases too much thyroid hormone The person can become restless and overactive and the heart often races Graves disease is found in less then of 1 of the population Although it is fund most frequently in middle aged women 81 more than men it also occurs in children and in the elderly There are several elements contributing to the development of Graves disease There is a genetic predisposition to auto-immune disorders Infections and stress play a part Graves disease may have its onset after an external stress in other instances it may follow a viral infection or pregnancy Many times the exact cause of Graves disease is simply not known It is not contagious although it has been known to occur coincidentally between husbands and wives Of research importance the Graves gene in DNA has not yet been identified The
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