Graves' disease is one of several causes of an overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism. An excess of thyroid hormone leads to a hyper-metabolic state, and causes symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, tremors and weight loss. If untreated, serious complications can result, such as heart failure and rhythm disturbances and eye disease.
Graves' disease is hyperthyroidism due to the body's own immune system forming antibodies which stimulate the thyroid gland, resulting in an excess of thyroid hormone. It is usually treated by an endocrinologist with anti-thyroid medications. This can often lead to a remission and medications can be safely ceased. If medications cannot control Graves' disease, or if patients cannot tolerate the medication due to side-effects or contraindications (such as pregnancy), then surgery to remove the entire thyroid gland is an excellent treatment option.