When You Have Graves Disease

You have been diagnosed with Graves disease. This means you have an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Thyroid hormone is important to your body's growth and metabolism. But if you have too much thyroid hormone, your body's processes may speed up or overreact. This can cause a variety of symptoms. Graves disease is treated with medicines, radiation, or surgery. Below are instructions for self-care and follow-up care.

Taking your medicine

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed. 

  • Take your medicine at the same time every day. Keep your pills in a container that is labeled with the days of the week. This will help you remember if you’ve taken your medicine each day.

  • Try to take your medicine with the same food or drink each day. This will help you control the amount of thyroid hormone in your body.

  • Don’t stop taking medicine. If you do, your symptoms will return. Only make changes to your medicine routine as your healthcare provider instructs.

  • Keep a card in your wallet that says you have Graves disease. Make sure it has your name and address, contact information for your healthcare provider, and the names and doses of your medicines.

Keeping track of symptoms

During your routine visits, tell your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms of too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). This can be a side effect of treatment. Also tell your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism).

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Tiredness or low energy

  • Puffy hands, face, or feet

  • Hoarseness

  • Muscle pain

  • Slow heartbeat (less than 60 beats per minute)

  • Feeling unusually cold when others feel comfortable

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Restlessness

  • Fast weight loss

  • Sweating

  • Fast heartbeat (more than 100 beats per minute)

  • Feeling unusually hot when others feel comfortable

Eye care

  • If you have eyelid swelling, sleep with your head elevated.

  • If you have eye irritation, ask your healthcare provider about ointments or artificial tears. Wear glasses with side guards to protect your eyes from dust and wind. If you have trouble closing swollen eyelids, you may need to tape them shut at night.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff. Make and keep appointments to see your healthcare provider and have blood tests. You will need to have blood test for the rest of your life to check your hormone levels.

When to call your healthcare provider 

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Anxiety, shakiness, or sleeplessness that gets worse

  • Sore throat while taking medicines to control hyperthyroidism

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your healthcare provider

  • Feeling sweaty and hot when others around you are comfortable

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trouble focusing your eyes or double vision

  • Bulging eyes

  • Weight loss for no obvious reason

  • Fast heartbeat (more than 100 beats per minute)

  • Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter) that gets larger

  • Diarrhea