PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You’re cold, you’re tired, you’re gaining weight.
Does that sound familiar?
If so, you might have a hidden illness affecting many women that often goes undiagnosed for years.
Vicki Wayne and Anne Downes were diagnosed with an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, in their 30s.
Looking back, they believe they went undiagnosed for decades.
“In that time, I got married, I had my kids. So you think, I’m tired because I’ve got two toddlers at home,” Wayne said.
“It could have prevented a lot of things going wrong like infertility and weight gain,” Downes said.
Endocrinologist Dr. Sarah Nadeem says many others may be suffering in silence.
“If you were to look at a group of women, one-in-eight will actually have some sort of thyroid disease,” said Dr. Nadeem.
According to the American Thyroid Association, women are five-to-eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems, and 60 percent go undetected.
“The majority of thyroid disease is actually autoimmune so basically that means your own body makes cells that will attack the thyroid gland,” said Dr. Nadeem.
All it takes is a simple blood test to determine your thyroid hormone levels.
Despite how easy that sounds, it takes five years, on average, for a woman with an autoimmune disease to get a proper diagnosis.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism mimic menopause and include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair loss.
To treat it, Dr. Nadeem recommends tried and true thyroid medications like Synthroid, which Wayne and Downes both take.
“Once you start getting the medicine and you start feeling better, it’s like wow, I have a little bit more energy. Oh, I have even more energy…so it was almost night and day,” Wayne said.
“I wake up more rested. It feels like I’m more normal…like a more normal human being,” Downes said.