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Causes of Graves Disease

The article will delve into the causes and complications of Graves Disease that you should be aware of.

  • 12 Oct 2023
  • 2 min read

Graves disease is an immune system-associated disorder (autoimmune) resulting in overactive thyroid function, high metabolism, and many related physical symptoms. If left untreated, this autoimmune disease can cause severe health problems and even death. Understanding the causes of Graves disease is essential in order to diagnose and treat it properly- so where do we begin? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the potential causes of Graves Disease that could be responsible for developing the condition. We'll explore medical research-backed theories behind genes, hormone imbalances and environmental triggers that might play a part in causing Graves Disease.

How is Graves Disease caused?

Graves disease is caused by auto-antibodies production, called Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulin/antibodies (TSI/TSAb). Normally, this antibody is produced by immune cells present in thyroid glands, but it can also be produced by immune cells of the lymph nodes and bone marrow. The TSI formed is not under control, which can cause hyperactivity of thyroid glands found on the front of our neck. Graves disease is due to a number of factors, including:

Family history

A positive family history plays the most important role in any autoimmune disease, including Graves disease.


Graves disease has been found to be associated with twins and is particularly more common in monozygotic twins than in dizygotic twins.

Emotional stress

It is one prominent reason behind many auto-immune diseases, as regular stress can weaken the immune system and place a person at risk of various diseases, including Graves disease.

Environmental factors

Factors like regular smoking, bad food habits, excess iodine intake, and less physical activity can trigger Graves disease, particularly for those who are prone or have a positive family history.

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It is one of the triggers for Graves disease in women. The major changes in hormones during pregnancy can make a woman prone to Graves disease, particularly if she has a positive family history. This is also a reason why women are more prone to Graves disease than men. Women who have recently given birth to a baby (post-partum period) are more prone to Graves disease.

Auto-immune diseases

Previous presence of other auto-immune diseases like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Vitiligo, etc. might trigger Graves disease.

Frequent viral infections

People who are prone to frequent viral infections can also get Graves disease more as compared to others who do not get viral infections frequently.


The chances of getting Graves disease increases with age.

Inflammation in eyes

Inflammation in the eyes, particularly in the muscles, along with increased proliferation of extra-ocular muscles, is associated with Graves' ophthalmopathy. It happens due to the action of thyroid-stimulating antibodies and the cytokines stimulated in response to it. The growth of retro-orbital connective tissue and fat tissues increases, and excess hydrophilic glycosaminoglycans (GAG) synthesis occurs. GAGs cause retro-orbital muscle swelling by trapping water in it, and ultimately, all of these changes are responsible for periorbital oedema and protrusion of eyeballs called Graves ophthalmopathy. This can lead to permanent muscle fibrosis if left untreated.    


Graves disease is a medical condition that affects the thyroid, eyes, and skin, but it can also have systemic effects on other organs such as the heart, bones, and muscles. Recognizing the causes of Graves disease and managing this condition early is crucial. Fortunately, diagnosing Graves disease is straightforward through a patient's medical history and physical examination. Blood tests can determine if hyperthyroidism is present. By intervening promptly using health insurance with medical treatment, symptoms can be effectively controlled and thyroid hormone secretion can be reduced.

The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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