Graves’ Disease in Children – What to do?

In this week’s episode of Thyroid Thursday, expert oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Raymond Douglas discusses treatment for Graves’ disease in children and adolescents. The disease is actually more common than realized in children so we wanted to create a resource for parents with children suffering from Graves’ disease.

Types of Graves’ Disease in Children

There are TWO forms of the disease:

  1. Fat predominant disease with a lot of bulging in the eyes
  2. Inflammation in the muscles behind the eyes which causes the tissues to expand and cause vision problems

In adolescents, the disease can be very severe which leads to a significant social impact. Some of the common effects of the disease are thyroid abnormalities, weight gain as a result of thyroid medication, hair loss or changes in face shape from steroids. Because adolescence is already a difficult time in life, it is very important to Dr. Douglas that he help his young patients get in control of their thyroid problems. Unfortunately, thyroid disease may go undiagnosed in children because their symptoms can be misinterpreted as mood swings or depression. So please find an expert endocrinologist to help your child get the proper diagnosis.

Thyroid Treatment for Children

When we discuss treating Graves’ disease in children, just like adults, there are two things that must be addressed:

  1. Treat the Thyroid – Medication can be difficult for children to manage, so often times we will look into radioactive iodine or thyroidectomy. Please consult with your child’s endocrinologist and thyroid expert to determine the best course of treatment to manage the thyroid disease.
  2. Treat the Eye Disease – In many cases, the eye disease is mild or will grow away as the child gets older. So when treating children, Dr. Douglas is always very cautious to monitor the child and not rush into surgery. Dr. Douglas’ goal is to reverse the disease and do as little surgery as possible. When performing orbital decompressions on children, he will actually leave the eyes a little on the prominent side because as they age the face continues to grow and change.

Adolescent Patient Case Study

This young patient stopped doing all of the things she loved because of her Graves’ disease, including playing her favorite sport, volleyball. Many of the treatment interventions she tried interfered with her happiness and quality of life. Ultimately the young patient and her parents decide an orbital decompression with Dr. Douglas was the best course of treatment. After surgery, she was able to resume doing the things she loved!

Contact Dr. Douglas Today!

If your child is suffering from Graves’ disease, please contact our office today so we can help get your child back to being a kid again! Dr. Douglas is the world’s leading expert for the treatment of Graves’ disease in children, so you can rest assured your child is in the safest hands with him.


Posted in: Thyroid Eye Disease

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