Share this article Share No matter how little she ate and how much she exercised, she gained weight. Her once-silky blonde hair was becoming dry and brittle. Her doctor diagnosed postnatal depression and prescribed antidepressant medication.
But it took more than ten years, and the development of increasingly frightening symptoms, for doctors to discover the true cause of her problems.
The thyroid gland produces the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which are released into the bloodstream to control growth and metabolism. They affect heart rate and body temperature and help convert food into energy.
Normally, the levels of these hormones are carefully controlled so that these processes happen at a stable rate. Commonly, this results in tiredness, weight gain and depression. Often, there is a swelling in the neck — known as a goitre — caused by the enlargement of the gland and, more rarely, pain. Patients may also experience constipation, dry skin, hair loss, cold intolerance, mild deafness, menstrual irregularities and memory loss.
In severe cases, if left untreated, kidney and heart failure can occur. Other causes include the side effect of some medicines and an iodine deficiency. The condition occurs especially between the ages of 30 and 50, but may be seen in any age group, including children.
The disease is ten times as common in women as in men, although it is not fully understood why. Having suffered for years without treatment, Gena Lee, who was 23 when she was cast as Baywatch lifeguard Neely Capshaw, is campaigning for routine thyroid testing. I would get a puffy face, puffy eyes. In fact, everything else was going so well, which made it all the more odd. After my second baby, I got up to lb. And not through lack of exercise or eating right either. Three days a week, Gena Lee would report to the Baywatch set at 4am.
Production finished at sunset. So I would starve myself. I soldiered on with the help of anti-depressants. Gina Lee is now working on a book with US thyroid expert Mary Shomon to help other sufferers After marrying a second time, to professional ice-hockey player turned sports commentator Cale Hulse, she became pregnant again.
Their son, Hudson, was born in I was at eight weeks, when my heart suddenly started to race at a terrifying speed. This happened three times while I was pregnant.
It was so scary. The doctors finally decided to check my thyroxine level with a blood test — they were worried I was producing too much, but in fact found it to be very low. I was diagnosed there and then. My doctors tried a number of different medications before finding one that finally worked — and within three days of taking it, I was almost symptom-free.
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