Wendy Williams Announces Battle With Graves’ Disease; Takes Break From Show

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Long-running talk show host Wendy Williams told viewers on Wednesday that she was taking time off from the show due to her battle with Graves’ disease.

The host of “The Wendy Williams Show” made the announcement during her syndicated show, saying she will take three weeks off starting on Thursday to focus on her health. This comes just months after the talk show host, on camera, had bulging eyes then passed out while dressed up as the Statue of Liberty during a Halloween episode. Many questioned her health status then, but she replied that she had just overheated. Today, the popular gossip queen came clean.

“My doctor has prescribed … are you ready? As of today, three weeks of vacation,” she told the audience. “What? Who are you? I was pissed.”

Williams, 53, said a recent checkup with her doctor for hyperthyroidism, which she has dealt with for years, revealed new problems.

“My thyroid has been totally cattywampus,” she said. “That is the eye thing that you all have been seeing.”

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“My thyroid — my hyperthyroid — is attached also to Graves’ disease,” Williams said, explaining that the autoimmune disease “squeezes the muscles behind your eyeballs,” resulting in bulging eyes. Another notable celebrity who suffers from the same disease is Missy Elliott.

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that leads to overactivity of the entire thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States. It is named after Robert Graves, an Irish physician, who described this form of hyperthyroidism about 150 years ago. It is 7-8 times more common in women than men.

The majority of symptoms of Graves’ disease are caused by the excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland (see Hyperthyroidism brochure). These may include, but are not limited to, racing heartbeat, hand tremors, trouble sleeping, weight loss, muscle weakness, neuropsychiatric symptoms and heat intolerance.

Graves’ disease is the only kind of hyperthyroidism that can be associated with inflammation of the eyes, swelling of the tissues around the eyes and bulging of the eyes (called Graves’ ophthalmopathy or orbitopathy).
Something that Wendy experienced. Overall, a third of patients with Graves’ disease develop some signs and symptoms of Graves’ eye disease but only 5% have moderate-to-severe inflammation of the eye tissues to cause serious or permanent vision trouble. Patients who have any suggestion of eye symptoms should seek an evaluation with an eye doctor (an ophthalmologist) as well as their endocrinologist.

Eye symptoms most often begin about six months before or after the diagnosis of Graves’ disease has been made. Seldom do eye problems occur long after the disease has been treated. In some patients with eye symptoms, hyperthyroidism never develops and, rarely, patients may be hypothyroid. The severity of the eye symptoms is not related to the severity of the hyperthyroidism.

Early signs of trouble might be red or inflamed eyes, a bulging of the eyes due to inflammation of the tissues behind the eyeball or double vision. Diminished vision or double vision are rare problems that…