The symptoms are so common you may not even know you have it. That's the danger for people living with a common thyroid disease. In this month’s Health Check report, Serese Cole found out from a doctor at the Fremont Area Medical Center that millions of people get it, but women are most likely to be affected.
Angela Bicking loves sharing kisses with son Jayce, but when he was born it didn't take long for all her elation to turn into exhaustion. "I felt like I was walking through quicksand." She assumed it was because she was a new mom. “Up quite a bit at night, you got to be up in the morning, every little cry you've got to be there to take care of."
A doctor's visit proved it was more than that. Dr. Shalu Bansal noticed Angela had an enlarged thyroid. The diagnoses was hypothyroidism.
"Hypothyroidism is when our thyroid gland, which is situated right here in our neck, does not produce enough hormone and that thyroid hormone is actually needed to regulate the metabolism of our whole body."
Fatigue is the most common symptom, but there are many more including muscle pain or weakness, unexplained weight gain, sensitivity to cold temperatures, heavy menstrual periods and infertility. “We can have skin and hair changes, also actually lose the ends of our eyebrows.”
Hypothyroidism is usually diagnosed in a doctor's office with a simple blood test. If it turns out you have it, it can be treated with a prescription.
"Have you noticed changes in your skin or hair?" asked Dr. Bansal.
"A lot less dryness and itchiness," said Bicking. Just weeks after taking her medication she was looking and feeling like herself again. "I feel so much better.” She now has enough energy to give a busy 6-month-old all the love and attention he needs.
Dr. Bansel says if this condition is left untreated, the fatigue gets even worse. There can also be problems with memory, thinking clearly and depression. Severely untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to a coma. If you experience fatigue and any of those symptoms, it's best to see a doctor.