Maybe Your Problem Is Your Thyroid

by Laurie Fronek


Hyperthyroidism Story Kimberlee Coates, a 42-year-old cosmetologist in Houston, Texas, describes herself as a Type-A personality, someone constantly on the go. "I've always had a lot of energy," she says. So when she started to feel a bit run down, she blamed her busy lifestyle. After all, she asks, "Who doesn't feel fatigued?"
      Over the next year, though, Coates's dismissiveness turned to concern as she noticed other changes: a 15-pound weight gain; dry, scaly skin; and mental impairment she calls "brain fog." "When you walk into a room and can't remember what you were there for, we all do that sometimes, but when you get to where you're doing it several times a day," she says, "there's a problem."

       Coates became dogged by clumsiness, too, dropping and breaking glasses when she did dishes. Her coordination and reflexes just didn't seem the same, and it was starting to get depressing. "I thought, 'I'm just losing my mind,' " she recalls. Eventually her fatigue overtook her. "It was like having a really bad case of the flu," says Coates, "but having it every day."
      Few of us would know what to make of this strange mix of symptoms. But, familiar with her father's thyroid problems, Coates began wondering whether her thyroid could be involved. So she visited an endocrinologist -- an internist who specializes in hormonal disorders. Her choice proved to be a good one. The doctor immediately recognized Coates symptoms (as well as the goiter in her neck) and simple blood tests confirmed it: Coates had an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism.
Many people whose motors seem to slow down or who start to gain weight, especially in their 50s or beyond, blame advancing age, when the real cause is underactive thyroid . New research suggests this condition, especially in its mild form, may be twice as common as previously thought -- accounting for hundreds of thousands of cases of hard-to-diagnose but highly treatable symptoms, as well as a dangerous complication: high cholesterol.


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