WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- The trace mineral selenium improves quality of life and slows the progression of eye problems in people with the autoimmune disorder known as Graves' disease, a new study says.
Italian researchers report that they compared daily selenium use to both a medication called pentoxifylline and a placebo, and found that selenium could benefit people with Graves' disease with eye involvement, without causing side effects.
"Our study demonstrates that patients with mild Graves' orbitopathy, [who are] usually not given any specific treatment, can benefit from a six-month course of selenium selenite [100 micrograms twice daily], both in terms of amelioration of eye manifestations and improvement in quality of life," said study author Dr. Claudio Marcocci, a professor of endocrinology at the University of Pisa, Italy.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disease that usually affects the thyroid gland, causing hyperthyroidism, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Common symptoms of the disease include nervousness, irritability, weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, hand tremors and trouble sleeping, according to the NIDDK.
The disease can also cause the immune system to attack the area around the eyes, causing inflammation in the tissue behind the eye socket. This can cause the eyes to protrude, a common sign of Graves' disease. When the eyes are affected by Graves' disease it's often referred to as Graves' ophthalmopathy or Graves' orbitopathy.
Symptoms of Graves' ophthalmopathy include dry eyes, puffy eyelids, double vision, sensitivity to light, a feeling of eye pain or pressure and difficulty moving the eyes, according to NIDDK. Approximately one out of four people with Graves' disease will develop mild to moderate eye symptoms that usually last for a year or two and then resolve o
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