Basedow’s disease is a disorder that causes hyperthyroidism in which thyroid hormones are produced in excess. Basedow’s disease, also known as Graves’ disease, is a common cause of hyperthyroidism.
Basedow’s disease is common in women. For every man with Basedow’s disease, there are approximately 5-6 women who suffer from it. However, compared to other thyroid diseases, Basedow’s disease has a relatively high proportion of male patients. It tends to occur in people who are aged 20-59 and most commonly in those who are 30-49.
Development of Basedow’s disease is related to abnormalities of the immune system A normally functioning immune system protects the body by producing “antibodies” that fight against external enemies such as viruses and bacteria. However, if the body produces antibodies that attack itself (autoantibodies) rather than external intruders, then disease may result. This type of disease is called an “autoimmune disease”, and Basedow’s disease is one example. It is not clear why such autoantibodies are produced. In Basedow’s disease, autoantibodies (TRAb and TSAb) stimulate the thyroid gland to produce excessive thyroid hormones.
Multiple causes are thought to be involved in the development of Basedow’s disease. Approximately 15% of patients with Basedow’s disease have family members who also suffer from it, suggesting that genetic factors are involved. However, Basedow’s disease sometimes occurs after large changes in the body’s internal environment, such as childbirth. This provides evidence that factors other than genetics are also involved in Basedow’s disease.