(CBS) What's Graves' disease? Ask Missy Elliott. The 39-year-old hip hop singer, songwriter, and producer told People Magazine that she's been suffering from the autoimmune thyroid disease since 2008, according to USA Today.
Elliott found out she had Graves' after experiencing tremors, a common symptom of the disease.
"I couldn't keep the brake down and almost crashed," she told People, adding that she couldn't "even use a pen."
Graves' is five to 10 times more common in women than men, and usually occurs before age 40. Symptoms of the disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, include anxiety, sleep problems, fatigue, weight loss, sweating, sensitivity to heat, brittle hair, and menstrual irregularities, in addition to hand and finger tremors of the sort Elliott experienced.
Doctors aren't sure what causes Graves', but the condition can be treated with beta-blockers, antithyroid medications, radiation, and surgery. Patients who opt for the latter two options need to take replacement thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives. Surgery is risky and can cause permanent hoarseness - because it damages the nerves leading to the voicebox.
The Graves' Disease Foundation has more information on Graves' disease.
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