Graves’ disease being a hitter to your thyroid gland can significantly influence your overall well-being. It leads the gland to become overactive and produce hormones more than your body actually needs it, a condition known as hyperthyroidism and during pregnancy it can lead to some serious complications. So it’s important to talk about Graves’ disease and pregnancy and know what one could do to avoid the situation from getting worse, if get affected with the disease.
When you get pregnant you feels like your entire life is about to get changed. The feeling of motherhood takes you on cloud nine. But this is also the phase when your body also goes through a profound change due to change in hormone production. This is the phase when you should need to be more conscious of your health as a little hormonal change can lead to some serious health conditions too.
Ultimate Guide for Graves’ Disease During Pregnancy
What is Graves’ disease?
When we talk about Graves’ disease, it is a disorder of immune system which affects different parts of your body, especially the thyroid gland. In medical terms it is known as an autoimmune disease as the immune cells target the body’s own tissues rather than attacking any foreign organism like bacteria or virus. Thyroid is considered to be a vital gland due to the job assigned to it. It is responsible for producing several hormones that influence multiple physiological functions and thus regulate energy level.
The most common effect and visible sign of Graves’ disease is enlarged thyroid gland, a condition popularly known as goiter. The other signs include trouble in sleeping, increased heartbeat, constant feeling of fatigue, loss in weight, hand tremors, increased sensitivity to heat leading to increased sweating, frequent defecation or itching. Some uncommon symptoms seen in people are development of inflamed tissues behind their eyes, making eyes to bulge, red or thickened skin, generally around top of feet or on the shins.
Read more: Common Infections During Pregnancy
Complications Associated with Pregnancy
If left ignored or untreated, it may lead you and your baby suffer some serious health consequences. The disease may exacerbate during the period of your pregnancy and a constant higher level of thyroid hormones may lead to premature birth. It also exposes a mother to a higher risk of developing a serious health condition known as pre-eclampsia, suffer a miscarriage or placental abruption. The impact of Graves’ disease on growing fetus can be more fatal. It may lead your baby born with some congenital malformations or may cause issues with normal brain development. Maternal hyperthyroidism is also seen making fetal or neonate thyroid hyperactive leading to hyperthyroidism in babies. However if a mother is being treated with anti-thyroid drugs there are less chances of the baby developing hyperthyroidism.
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Treatment Options Available for Pregnant Women
While mild hyperthyroidism is being monitored closely by the doctor without prescribing any drug, severe rise in hormone level is addressed by putting the mother on a routine of anti-thyroid medications having propylthiouracil, a drug of choice for first trimester and methimazole for rest of the period. The purpose of anti-thyroid drugs is to keep the level of maternal free T4 and T3 hormones in normal range so as to keep the developing fetus safe from getting affected.
The other treatment options include administration of beta blockers. These don’t have any effect on production of hormones but they are helpful in in alleviating symptoms. But their use should be restricted to a limited level to avoid any impairment with fetal growth.
The mothers who find herself allergic to anti-thyroid drugs can have surgery as an acceptable alternative.
Prevention of Graves’ Disease
Being an autoimmune disease, there is hardly anything can be done on your part to prevent yourself from being affected from this disease. However a little changes in your lifestyle can help to prevent the condition become worse.
The first thing is keeping an eye on what you eat. Graves’ disease diet excluded several food items like soy and brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, turnip, mustard, brussels sprouts and wasabi. Also avoid eating anything that triggers an allergic reaction in your body.
Secondly keep your stress free as stress may make the situation worse. Try to keep yourself in calm state, listen music, go out with friends and family or walk in garden.