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Odd Enough What is graves' disease — And should you be worried about it?

Wendy Williams announced on her talk show Wednesday that she’s taking a three-week hiatus from the show. Wendy was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, she explained, and she needs rest to feel better.

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Talk show host Wendy Williams was recently diagnosed with this autoimmune condition. play

Talk show host Wendy Williams was recently diagnosed with this autoimmune condition.

(ILYA S. SAVENOK/GETTY)

Talk show host Wendy Williams was recently diagnosed with this autoimmune condition.

Wendy Williams announced on her talk show Wednesday that she’s taking a three-week hiatus from the show. Wendy was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid, she explained, and she needs rest to feel better.

“Graves’ disease squeezes the muscles behind the eyeballs,” she said, adding that her health condition has made her eyes twitch. Wendy says that she chalked up her symptoms to stress over her son Kevin applying to colleges, and her work, but apparently it was due to her health condition.

Wendy also said on her show that she suffers from hyperthyroidism, i.e. an overactive thyroid gland, too.

According to Wendy, she put off an appointment with her endocrinologist in December, but finally was able to make it to her doctor’s office on Tuesday. “My doctor has prescribed—are you ready?—as of today, three weeks of vacation,” she said. “What? Who are you? I was pissed.”

Wendy’s announcement came a week after she revealed on Instagram that she had to cancel several shows due to “flu-ish symptoms.” “I feel awful,” she said in the video post. “I had to be talked out of going to work today.”

She also fainted during a live broadcast of her show on Halloween, which she later said was due to her being "overheated" in her costume.

Wow @WendyWilliams fainted on today's show. "That was not a stunt. I'm overheated in my costume and I did pass out." pic.twitter.com/DsuwcS63Ye

— Dave Quinn (@NineDaves) October 31, 2017

So What Is Graves' Disease, Really?

Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that causes the overproduction of thyroid hormones, according to the Mayo Clinic. While there are plenty of reasons why someone might have hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease is a common cause, the organization says.

The disease isn’t super common but it’s not totally rare, either—it impacts about one in 200 people in the U.S., according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s also more likely to affect women than men.

Could You Even Spot The Symptoms Of Graves' Disease?

Symptoms generally include anxiety and irritability, a tremor in your hands or fingers, heat sensitivity, unexplained weight loss, a change in your menstrual cycles, frequent bowel movements, bulging eyes, fatigue, thick, red skin that’s usually on the shins or tops of the feet, and heart palpitations, the Mayo Clinic says.

Unfortunately, you don’t develop Graves’ disease and then get rid of it. “Graves’ is a chronic condition,” says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. “The symptoms can wax and wane, and it can be managed.”

What Can You Do About It?

Each case of Graves’ disease is different, and treatment ultimately depends on the person and how their disease manifests itself, Wider says. However, treatment usually includes anti-thyroid medication, radioiodine therapy, which destroys overactive thyroid cells over time, beta-blockers, which block the effect of hormones on the body, and surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid, says Susan Besser, M.D., a primary care physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

"As a result of the treatment, most people develop the opposite condition—hypothyroidism—and thus must take replacement thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives," Besser says.

There’s no way to prevent Graves’ disease, but medications can usually help people manage it effectively, Wider says.

Wendy joked on her show that she’ll be “back in two [weeks],” adding, “I’m not an heiress—who is going to pay my bills? Are you serious? I’m just saying, I come from working class.”

Despite the jokes, Wendy stressed that women should put their health first. “What I want to say to women, more than men, is stop putting everyone first because if we’re not good, they’re not good,” she said.

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