Daniel J. Toft
Graves’ disease is named for the doctor—Robert J. Graves—who first described it in a patient in 1835. The disease is also referred to as Basedow’s disease—named after a German, Karl Adolph van Basedow, who described the disease in 1840. He didn’t know that Graves had described the same disease just a few years earlier. The term Basedow’s disease is more commonly used in continental Europe; in the United States, it’s called Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease is a type of autoimmune problem that causes the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroid hormone, which is called hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease is often the underlying cause of hyperthyroidism.
Autoimmune problems—of which there are many different types—develop when your immune system causes disease by attacking healthy tissues. Researchers do not completely understand what causes autoimmunity, although there seems to be a genetic connection, as cases of Graves’ disease tend to run in families. For unknown reasons, like many autoimmune diseases, Graves’ is also more likely to affect women than men.
Northwestern University, USA