This week, talk show host Wendy Williams announced that she has Graves’ disease.
Williams said she is taking a break from her show for three weeks, and fans offered their support.
About 10 million people in the US have Graves' disease, including other celebrities, like Sia and Missy Elliott.
1. Graves’ affects the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck.
2. And despite the name, the disease has nothing to do with actual graves.
3. There are A LOT of different symptoms, including anxiety and sweating.
4. Williams fainted on her show in November, and it may have been related to her diagnosis.
5. In 2011, Missy Elliott told People magazine that she almost wrecked her car because condition-related tremors made it difficult for her to brake.
Tremors are a common symptom for people with Graves' disease, says Smith. “One of those things that I look for in the physical examination is tremors,” he said.
The good news is that, since then, Missy Elliott has said she is doing well and is managing the disease.
6. Some people have more severe symptoms, like eye protrusion and neck swelling.
7. Although it can be serious, it’s also very treatable.
In 2010, Sia tweeted about radiation treatment for the condition. This is one of the most common treatments for Graves', but there are others.
Most often people start by taking anti-thyroid medications, “which control the thyroid overactivity, but don’t cure the disease, in that when the medication is stopped most people revert to hyperthyroidism,” says Smith.
The “definitive therapies,” including radioactive iodine ablation or surgical thyroidectomy, involve removing or shrinking overactive tissue, Smith said.
For example, in radioactive iodine therapy, patients are treated with radiation-tagged iodine molecules, which selectively target and kill overactive cells in the thyroid.
8. And getting treatment is really important.
9. A blood test can catch thyroid problems before you even have symptoms.
10. But Graves' can sometimes take a while to diagnose.
You can read more about what it's really like to have Graves' disease here.
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Theresa Tamkins is a health editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Theresa Tamkins at email@example.com.
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