Graves' disease

Graves' disease shares many immunological features with autoimmune thyroiditis, and indeed autoimmune hypothyroidism often supervenes years after successful treatment with antithyroid drugs.

Graves' disease is characterized by the production of TSH-R stimulating antibodies. They cause sustained hyperthyroidism and the characteristic firm, diffuse goitre found in most patients. Graves' disease is the common cause of hyperthyroidism, accounting for 60-80% of cases.

In Europe, the prevalence is around 1% in women aged 35-60 years, about 5-10 times lower than that in men. Over 90% of patients with Graves' disease have thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy. Clinically obvious disease is apparent in around 50% of patients, causing lid lag and retraction and nerve compression, with diminishing frequencies; severe congestive ophthalmopathy affects fewer than 5% of patients.