| Jake George and Nancy Hord-Patterson, ARNP,
George is facilitator, support group leader and Webmaster of the National
Graves' Disease Foundation. He is a civil servant with the Department
of the Air Force and writes articles and lectures on Graves' disease and
Native American issues.
is the Founder and Executive Director of the National Graves' Disease
Foundation. The NGDF is a founding member of Thyroid Federation International.
When she is not counseling in private practice in Western North Carolina,
Nancy is a consultant and lectures and leads patient seminars and conferences
on Graves' disease. Jake George and Nancy Hord-Patterson are the co-authors
of the new book Graves'
Disease, In Our Own Words.
"My doctor said I have Graves' Disease. What are my treatment options?" This
is a question that is often asked of the National Graves' Disease Foundation
(NGDF). The NGDF is a non-profit
organization that strives to provide patient support and education on Graves'
disease and its treatments. Treatments for Graves' disease include antithyroid
drugs (ATDs), radioactive iodine therapy (R-131), and thyroidectomy (surgical
removal of the thyroid gland). Once it is diagnosed, treatment for Graves' disease
is fairly straightforward. Ideally, doctors assess patients to determine the
best treatment options. Together, doctor and patient decide upon a treatment
plan and treatment begins.
Unfortunately, all too often a patient has never heard of Graves' disease before
diagnosis. Many patients are not told of all the treatment options available
to them or how Graves' disease may affect them. Every year, the NGDF receives
literally thousands of requests for information on treatment options and the
effects of Graves' disease, for which Dr. Donnica wrote the introduction. To
read Dr. Donnica's introduction, click
The NGDF was founded to provide education and
support to the patient, their families and the medical community. The NGDF operates
a bulletin board where patients, family members, and the medical community can
post questions and provide support to others on the site. Since the beginning
of the year 2000, the NGDF bulletin board has had four million posts a year.
Medical diagnosis is not provided nor are any tests interpreted. What is provided
is a place for people affected by Graves' disease to find others in similar
situations. Patients find they are not alone and that there is comfort in talking
For the past six years the NGDF has heard the same questions asked almost daily:
Why me? What now? Is this Graves'-related? Will my eyes be affected? Will I
be able to have a child? My doctor said radioactive iodine therapy is the way
to go. Are there any other options?
To help answer these questions and provide
information that is easy to understand, the NGDF has sponsored a book written
by its Executive Director, Nancy Patterson, Ph.D. and the facilitator of the
NGDF bulletin board, Jake George. The book is called "Graves' Disease,
In Our Own Words." It is written in plain language, and is in part a compilation
of answers to the questions asked over the past six years. It also defines Graves'
disease, its treatment options, and symptoms, and provides tips for living with
A person is considered hyperthyroid if they produce too much thyroid hormone.
Since Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease, we cannot stop the thyroid from
being attacked by thyroid antibodies, but we can slow down the production of
the hormone with antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine therapy. A thyroidectomy
may also be done to remove part or most of the thyroid to reduce hormone output.
Antithyroid Drugs (ATDs)
ATDs should be considered as the first course of treatment. They disrupt the
thyroid's ability to make thyroid hormone. This reduces the amount of thyroid
hormone in our bodies and lets us achieve a state of balance. Remission rates
for people using ATDs are between 30 and 50%. Those with earlier diagnosis seem
to do better with remission than those who aren't diagnosed until the disease
has progressed. There can be extenuating circumstances as to why certain people
may not be able to use ATDs and this should be discussed at length with a physician.
Radioactive Iodine (I-131)
I-131 has been used for over sixty years, and extensive studies show that it
is a safe and effective treatment for Graves' disease. A radioactive iodine
isotope is taken by mouth either as a pill or a liquid. The thyroid absorbs
the radioactive iodine and what is not absorbed is excreted in the urine. The
I-131 works by killing off the thyroid tissue that is overproducing the hormone.
A replacement thyroid hormone is often needed and must be taken throughout a
Thyroidectomy is a form of surgery that removes part or most of the thyroid
gland. The removal of all or part of the gland reduces the amount of thyroid
hormone produced. In some cases the patient does not need to take any replacement
hormone and is considered to be euthyroid (hormones are in balance and in the
normal ranges on blood tests). However, doctors usually remove most of the thyroid
gland and as with I-131 treatment, they will need to take a replacement hormone
Graves Disease, In Our Own Words
The book is written in simple language and
explains what Graves' disease is, how it is treated, how our thyroid levels
are kept in balance and how it affects many of us in our day-to-day lives. It
is a look into the lives of people with Graves' disease. It shows the patient
that Graves' is treatable and life can return to normal. It addresses peoples'
concerns, fears and hopes and provides stories of patients in all phases of
treatment, from the newly diagnosed to those who have had Graves' disease for
over fifty years.
Click here to order
the book, Graves' Disease, In Our Own Words.
Click here for more information about thyroid disease.
Click here for more information
about the National Graves' Disease Foundation.
Created: 7/16/2002  - Jake George and Nancy Hord-Patterson, AR
Reviewed: 7/26/2002  - Dr. Donnica Moore