Medical IDs for Graves' Disease
The confidence to live with Graves' disease
If you’ve been diagnosed with Graves’ disease, you likely have questions and concerns. This autoimmune condition affects the thyroid gland, which produces thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland makes too much of these hormones, your metabolism, body temperature, and even heart rate can be affected. Thankfully, treatments are available to help manage Graves’ disease and improve your health and quality of life.
A chronic autoimmune condition like Graves’ disease can sometimes impact your health in unexpected ways. In a medical emergency, first responders should know your medical history and medications to be able to give you fast and accurate care.
This is where medical IDs for Graves’ disease can be extremely helpful for people living with the condition.
How MedicAlert protects those living with Graves' disease
One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with Graves’ disease, their families and caregivers.
24/7 Emergency Response
Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.
Digital Health Profile
All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.
Emergency Contact Notification
In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.
Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.
Pair medical IDs for Graves’ disease with the protection plan that’s right for you.
What exactly is Graves’ disease?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Graves’ disease was first identified in the 1800s by the Irish physician it is named for- Robert Graves. It is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body mistakenly attacks a healthy part of itself. The causes for this are not fully understood.
In the case of Graves’ disease, this autoimmune problem means that thyroid tissue is targeted and destroyed. The thyroid gland is responsible for making hormones that regulate important body functions. Damage to this gland due to Graves’ disease results in a problem called hyperthyroidism, where too much thyroid hormone is produced.
Because thyroid hormone regulates metabolism and how the body uses energy, it especially affects these body systems:
- Heart (increases heart rate, sometimes dangerously)
- Bones (can cause osteoporosis, or weakened bones)
Graves’ disease affects nearly 1 in 100 adults in the U.S. and is responsible for most cases of hyperthyroidism. It is most common in women and in people over the age of 30.
What causes Graves’ disease?
When the immune system is functioning normally, it produces antibodies to known invaders such as bacteria and viruses. In an autoimmune condition like Graves’, the immune system mistakenly identifies healthy tissue as a foreign invader. One possibility for this is that some bacteria and viruses trigger these immune system changes, especially in people with a genetic predisposition.
Some risk factors that are linked to the development of Graves’ disease include:
- Family history of Graves’ disease
- Having other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes
- Smoking, due to its effect on the immune system
- Pregnancy or recent childbirth
- Emotional or physical stress in people with a genetic predisposition to Graves’
- Gender and age- as previously discussed, Graves’ is more common in women. It’s also more common before age 40
What are the symptoms and complications of Graves’ disease?
Symptoms of Graves’ disease happen due to excess thyroid hormone. Some common problems include:
- Racing heartbeat
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight loss
- Muscle weakness
- Heat intolerance and excess sweating
- Neuropsychiatric problems
In around a third of people diagnosed with Graves’ disease, eye problems called Graves’ ophthalmopathy or orbitopathy can develop. In this complication, eye tissues swell and the eyes bulge. In a small percentage of people, this inflammation can lead to vision problems.
Graves’ dermopathy is another complication that some people with Graves’ disease can develop, although rarely. This causes the skin on the shins to become thickened, red, and lumpy. It is usually painless.
Some further complications of Graves’ disease include:
- Irregular heart rhythms can lead to blood clots, heart failure, stroke, or other heart problems
- Osteoporosis or thinning bones
- Menstrual cycle problems and infertility
- Thyroid storm, a life-threatening crisis caused by untreated or poorly treated Graves’ disease, leading to symptoms such as severe weakness, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, delirium, seizures, irregular heartbeat, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), dangerously low blood pressure, and coma
In a medical emergency, it’s important for first responders to know about your history of Graves’ disease and any medications you take to treat and prevent complications. A MedicAlert medical ID for Graves’ disease and Protection Plan can ensure you get fast, accurate care. In the past 65 years, MedicAlert’s globally recognized symbol for medical emergencies has saved over 4 million lives.
What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for Graves' disease:
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for myasthenia gravis should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:
- Medical history, including Graves’ diagnosis and any other conditions
- Any other important details you want first responders to see right away
Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for Graves’ disease.
How do you diagnose Graves’ disease?
If your physical exam finds an enlarged thyroid gland and your symptoms match Graves’ disease, your doctor can order additional tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- Bloodwork to measure thyroid hormones, including levels of thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Labs that look for the presence of thyroid antibodies called TRAb or TSI- if this test is positive, no further testing is needed
- A radioactive iodine uptake test (RAUI), which measures thyroid function by looking at how much radioactive iodine the thyroid gland absorbs after consumption by mouth
- Ultrasound examination of blood flow in the thyroid gland (when other testing is not available or can’t be performed)
MedicAlert Foundation is proud to partner with NORD to provide support, educational resources and tools to help those affected by rare disease live more safely and confidently.
How do you treat, manage, and live with Graves’ disease?
According to MedicAlert partner the National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD), there are three common therapies for Graves’ disease:
- Antithyroid drugs– the most common antithyroid drug is methimazole; these medications decrease the release of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland.
- Radioactive iodine– this treatment intentionally damages the thyroid gland so that it does not produce as much thyroid hormone. After treatment, thyroid levels may be too low, requiring replacement.
- Thyroidectomy– this surgical procedure removes the thyroid gland, and is usually performed when other treatments have failed to work. Low thyroid levels must also be replaced with this option.
Along with the above treatments to improve high thyroid levels, drugs called beta blockers may be used to reduce the effects of any thyroid hormone that is circulating in the blood. Common beta blockers used include propranolol, atenolol, or metoprolol.
If a person with Graves’ disease also experiences Graves’ ophthalmopathy, treatments such as eye ointments, sunglasses, corticosteroids, and special prisms attached to eyeglasses may be used. In severe cases, surgery or orbital radiotherapy may be needed to treat eye complications.
Treating and managing Graves’ disease requires ongoing medical care and laboratory follow-up to make sure thyroid levels are correct. This helps to reduce the risk of complications from thyroid levels being too high from Graves’ disease, or too low following treatment of this type of hyperthyroidism.
How medical IDs for Graves' disease combined with MedicAlert Membership provide peace of mind
A diagnosis of Graves’ disease may feel overwhelming, but with proper treatment you can manage symptoms and complications, improving your quality of life.
In addition to a MedicAlert ID, membership in a Protection Plan gives you an extra layer of protection in emergencies. With one of these plans, you have access to services such as:
- A robust digital health profile containing all medical history, medications, allergies, vaccination status, and more
- A 24/7 Emergency Response Team that can convey important medical information
- Patient instructions that share details important to your care, such as contraindications for certain medications
- Emergency contact notification, so your family or trusted friends can be by your side quickly
- A printable patient profile that you can use for medical appointments
- Notification of any physician you designate to be alerted in an emergency
- Storage of advance directives, such as DNR status