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Do people diagnosed with Graves' disease qualify for disability?

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Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease, which is a disorder characterized by the body not recognizing itself, causing it to attack its own tissues and cells. Graves' disease most often affects the thyroid gland causing it to be overactive, to swell larger than it should be, and can lead to hyperthyroidism (the thyroid producing an overabundance of thyroid hormones).

The thyroid gland regulates things like weight, mental energy, mood, and physical energy.

Symptoms of Graves' disease can range from anxiety, irritability, insomnia and nervousness, to muscle weakness, frequent bowel movements and irregular heartbeat. The list of possible symptoms for the disease is quite long, and includes brittle nails, sensitivity to light and even chronic sinus infections. Graves' disease also affects the eyes and can cause exophthalmos (bulging eyes), eye irritation and double vision. Smoking is thought to be connected to the symptoms of the eyes, making them worse.

Graves' disease is a genetic constituent and is found one-fourth of the time in identical twins. The heart, nervous system, circulatory system and skin can also be affected by Graves' disease.

Graves' disease is usually easy to diagnose; a physical exam that shows a swollen thyroid gland and rapid heartbeat, along with symptoms of non-pitting edema and bulging eyes is usually enough to diagnose the disease. Tests such as radioactive iodine uptake, Serum T3, Serum TSH and Serum free T4 are also used to help diagnose.

Treatment of Graves' disease depends on the symptoms. Rapid heart rate, anxiety and sweating are most often treated with beta-blockers, and hyperthyroidism is usually treated with radioactive iodine, anti-thyroid medication and sometimes surgery.

Those who have Graves' disease and smoke tobacco should quit, since the eye issues associated with Graves' disease can get worse with smoking tobacco, even once the hyperthyroidism is treated and cured.

Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records. This includes whatever statements may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis).

It is very important that you tell your doctors about all the symptoms and disabilities you are experiencing and make sure your medical records include a diagnosis, prognosis, and complete description of your limitations that result from Graves', including those mentioned above. Your medical records will be the primary source of information used in your case, and if you fail to mention any symptoms, limitations or disabilities to your doctor, or if the doctor neglects to record them, they won't be included. You should make sure your doctor records everything you tell him/her.

Many people suffer from multiple symptoms that make it impossible to work. SSA will determine if the combination of impairments is sufficiently disabling to keep you from returning to work.

An Accredited Disability Representative with more than 20 years experience, Diana Wade believes her clientele can be comfortable knowing that she is recognized by SSA and is a charter member of NADR. To contact Ms. Wade call (661) 821-0494, email [email protected] or visit http://www.CaliforniaDisability.net.