Thursday, July 8, 2010

Graves' Disease

Graves disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism).
The thyroid gland is an important organ of the endocrine system. It is located in the front of the neck just below the voice box. This gland releases the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which control body metabolism. Controlling metabolism is critical for regulating mood, weight, and mental and physical energy levels.

If the body makes too much thyroid hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. (An underactive thyroid leads to hypothyroidism.)

Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It is caused by an abnormal immune system response that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormones. Graves disease is most common in women over age 20. However, the disorder may occur at any age and may affect men as well.

It seems new research conducted in New York State indicates Graves Disease, and autoimmune disease could be linked to AO exposure.

Ajay Varanasi , MD , an endocrinology fellow at the University of Buffalo has researched a link between AO exposure and high rates of upstate New York veterans born between 1925, and 1953, the time period most Vietnam Era Veterans were born. AO exposure seems to be a common thread in the number of cases diagnosed at the VA Hospital in Buffalo , NY .

Graves diease normally effects many more women than men, so this is at the very least unusual. Gaves is treatable, but may not be cureable in all cases. If you think you may have symptoms of Graves, get checked. It is a blood test called TSH.


  1. I am a 62 year old Viet Nam vet. I came down with hyyperthyroidism in 1996 but was not diagnosed until 1998. By that time I had lost thirty pounds and my heart rate was 140. There is no hyperthyroid history in my family. I began treatment at the VA this year for PTSD. They don't recognize the link between AO and hyperthyroidism, but I think it is fairly obvious. Thank you for your article.

  2. I am a 60 year old Vietnam vet. I have been dealing with graves disease symptoms since 1974. Finally diagnosed with Graves disease in 1983. I have been trying to convince the VA of the connection between my Graves Disease and my exposure to Agent Orange for all these years. hopefully my voice will soon be heard and acknowledged.

  3. My Dad passed away July 2005 from a heart attack. He had diabetes and Graves Disease. He was diagnosed with Graves Disease in 1978 or 1979. He was stationed in England at the time of the diagnosis. They sent him to Cambridge University to have it taken care of. They took care of it alright; they killed his thyroid completely. Because of it, he had heart issues, as well.

    When he retired, a forced retirement because of these issues, they wouldn't give him compensation for all the trouble. They gave him very little disability. Months before he passed away, he went back to the VA to try to get 100% disability. They finally gave it to him after he passed away, but retro'd it to the beginning of the year.

    I always said I bet he had the Graves Disease because of Agent Orange. Guess I was right. Now, the VA needs to acknowledge it and get help to those Vietnam Vets who are still being diagnosed and dealing with it.

    God bless all y'all Vietnam Vets!

  4. There is Radioactive iodine treatment used to threat thyroid disease. It is widely-recommended as a permanent treatment for hyperthyroidism, but be careful it can damage your thyroid.

  5. My dad is a Vietnam vet. who was exposed to AO he has massive health problems including Type 2 diabetes not to mention all 5 of his kids including me have health problems. My question to everyone is my dad does not have graves disease but I do. There is no family history of it I have checked could my dads exposure have caused me to have Graves Disease and if so are my kids at risk of getting it when they get older. As it was I was born with under developed lungs and have been fighting Asthma my whole life. Anyway if anyone has an answer I would like to know. It is bad enough the VA does not take care of my dads needs like they should! HE lost his legs in 2006 because of MRSA that was not treated properly and he has no eyesight from fighting in the war. As well as a few major strokes. I do my best to help my mom take care of him but some days it is difficult. My sister mentioned that we could all be sick because of the Vietnam war so I am just curious.

  6. I'm a viet Nam Vet, some 10 years ago I started having terrific head aches, started having times with palpatations, could not stand the sun to shine on my arm,and my breathing became a problem. my dr. continuiously treated my symptoms, till upon having a picture taken to look at my lungs, it took in my Thyroid gland, next thing upon recieving a blood test, my TSH level was out of the park. Upon further study these symptoms would come and then I would be alright. All the while having my symptoms treated. then boom, it would start all over again.Finally a decision was made to remove my thyroid surgically. It seems I was experiencing what they call thyroid storms. Thyroid removed 2005. Now I'm classified as hypothyroid. Bettter but still take many Meds. I was given 50% disability by the VA. I have filed a NOD with the VA. But Thyroid disorders are not allowed as a AO disease. I'm 66 we'll see.

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  8. I am a 77 year old Vietnam Vet who was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism/Graves Disease 4 years after returning home from Vietnam. I was stationed in Tactical Zone III (Phouc Vihn) where Agent Orange was used daily. In a U.S. Department of the Army of Aerial herbicide spray missions during 1965-1971 in Southeast Vietnam, it determined the number of gallons applied by fix-wing aircraft only. It did not include any other aerial or ground spraying, nor does it include Dinoxol, Trinoxol, Diquart, Bromacil, Tabgdex,Monuron,Diuron, or Dalagon agents. The study concluded Phouc Vihn and the surrounding area had the most substantial gallon amount applied during the entire Vietnam conflict totaling 643,769 gallons.
    3 years after returning home I began having health issues. They included hypertension, excessive sweating, weight loss, increased heart beat and depression. I was finally diagnosed with hyperthyroidism/goiter and Graves Disease and had 3/4 of my thyroid and goiter removed. Three years later I received radioactive treatment to remove my remaining thyroid removed. For many years I have suspected my disease was directly related to my service in Vietnam. I have repeatedly discussed this connection with the VA and also submitted a claim for disability compensation. The VA continues to state it does not qualify.
    I no longer have any records referencing my operations and the hospital records were destroyed years ago.
    With that said, I am looking for a Endocrinologist or Thyroidologist who has studied a connection with Agent Orange and Hyperthyroidism. I have asked the VA to see their Endocrinologist but was not granted an appointment. Can anyone give me some direction or help me with my situation.