What are the symptoms and signs of Graves' Disease?

The symptoms and signs of Graves' disease can be divided into two main sections:

1) Symptoms due to thyroid hormone excess (Thyrotoxicosis) and the potentiation of the catecholamines.
2) Symptoms due to the autoantibodies.

Symptoms due to thyroid hormone excess (Thyrotoxicosis)

  • Irritability
  • Weight loss 90% cases, weight gain 10%
  • Heat intolerance
  • Sweating
  • Fast or irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Irregular periods and infertility
  • Reduced libido and erectile dysfunction in the male
  • A fine tremor with possible muscle weakness (unable to climb stairs)
  • Heart failure in the elderly
  • Increased bone turnover,osteoporosis and possible fracture of bones
  • Fever
  • In children: behavioural disorders.

Symptoms due to the auto-antibodies

  • Eye disease: called thyroid associated ophthalmopathy (TAO). This is discussed under Thyroid Eye Disease.
  • Skin lesions: thick like orange peel, common over the shins (pretibial myxoedema)