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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Diagnosis

Your doctor will look for physical evidence of Graves' disease, including goiter, eye signs and skin signs. He or she also will ask you about recent weight loss, nervousness, tremors (shakes), increased sweating, palpitations, unusually frequent bowel movements, menstrual irregularities and whether you feel hot all the time.

During your physical examination, your doctor will feel your thyroid for abnormal nodules (lumps) and to see if it is enlarged. He or she also may use a stethoscope to listen for signs of abnormal blood flow near your thyroid gland. In other parts of your body, your doctor will check for additional signs of hyperthyroidism, including fast heart rate, irregular heart rhythm, hand tremor, fast reflexes when tendons are tapped with a soft hammer, and bulging eyes.

Your doctor will order blood tests to determine whether your thyroid is producing and releasing too much hormone. If your doctor is concerned about potential eye problems, he or she may order a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your eyes. If your doctor thinks your heart is involved, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and/or other cardiac tests probably will be needed.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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