By Fallon Davis
With information readily accessible online these days, some of our most pertinent information about health can come from a friend reading an article on the internet, or from a family member that has been through the same issue you are dealing with. Word of mouth has always been the fastest vehicle for information and this is how Mary Shomon gained notoriety for her activism regarding Thyroid disease.
Shomom is the founder and go-to-gal for anything Thyroid related on About.com. She’s a New York Times best selling author for the book “The Thyroid Diet: Manage Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss,” and has written several books on the cause, with another one of her popular pieces “Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You . . . That You Need to Know,” which was first published in 2000. Below we will be discussing Mary’s most recent work, “Your Pregnancy and Thyroid.”Although Mary is not a doctor by trade, she is consumer certified and experienced in the business of Thyroid disease, and how it affects people like herself every day. Mary has lived with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis for over 20 years since her diagnosis in the mid 1990’s and there is no better way to know about something unless you’ve experienced it.
What are your top five recommended test for people concerned about their thyroid?
Mary Shomon: To get to the bottom of the Thyroid issue, you want the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free T4, Free T3 and a Thyroid antibody evaluation, this evaluation would depend on if you had hyper (anxious, losing weight, rapid pulse, diarrhea, shakiness ) or hypo (sluggish, tired, gaining weight) symptoms. If you are hypo you would want to take a Thyroid Peroxidase (TTO) antibody. If you are hyper, then you would need a Thyroid-Stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI) antibody test. This is considered a baseline thyroid panel from a comprehensive standpoint and should be tested by your doctor when a patient is looking to get his/her thyroid checked. Many doctors only test for TSH and often times will not be able to tell if you have an autoimmune issue in many folks so it is important to have these five tests to be certain.
Do you feel a lot of people are misdiagnosed?
Mary Shomon: Yes. A lot of people are being told they are fine and will go into the doctor and ask for a thyroid test and have all the symptoms. Usually, their doctor will tell them they are depressed, stressed, PMS, old, inactive, etc. Eventually, they are giving cholesterol medicine or anti-depressant because they weren’t given a full Thyroid testing panel. People have to stick up for themselves sometimes and insist they get the full panel of testing. Sometimes testing is discouraged because of a patients insurance and instead of doing $300 dollars in blood work, they are given a prescription for high cholesterol or a cheaper method. On the other hand, some doctors have a bit of an ego and do not want to be told what they should do.
Are there steps someone could take to prevent thyroid disease?
Mary Shomon: Thyroid disease is not completely preventable, no matter what you do. You can make sure that you get regular checkups and monitor your thyroid, also prevent smoking cigarettes. You may even practice eating a balanced thyroid diet with enough iodine and b vitamins, avoiding too many soy products and staying clear of sugar and toxins. Any precaution to make sure you are not causing further inflammation in your system.
What are the most misinterpreted symptoms?
Mary Shomon: Being fatigue or exhausted. If you are taking naps on your lunch-break, or sleeping 12 hours and still not feeling refreshed, it could be a sign of thyroid issues. Losing or gaining a lot of weight rapidly, even if you have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Lastly changes in mood such as feeling depressed, feeling a little brain foggy or even having a difficult time concentrating.
What are the most noticeable symptoms in men and women?
Mary Shomon: Weight changes are definitely a dead giveaway, hair loss and the outer-edge of the eyebrow thinning is very common in women. I always tell women if they are penciling in their makeup, they should get their thyroid checked. An enlargement around the neck is a common physical manifestation as well. Lastly, if someone is very cold (hyper) or extremely hot (hypo).
Can you explain how thyroid disease may affect women going through menopause or pregnancy?
Mary Shomon: I feel every women planning on pregnancy, pre-menopausal, early 20’s, having fertility issues or going through any hormonal changes should be checked regularly for thyroid issues. Everything becomes more complicated because a women going through these hormone changes with menopause or pregnancy can show a lot of the same symptoms as a thyroid issue.
Can you explain more about your book, “Your Pregnancy and Thyroid”?
Mary Shomon: If women are having Infertility or miscarriage issues— she would definitely want to get her thyroid checked out. So many women spend thousands of dollars on fertility clinics and in vitro when they are experiencing thyroid complications. So, without getting checked or properly treated for a thyroid condition, you are at a higher risk for miscarriage, pre-term delivery, stillbirth and your child is more likely to have autism, ADHD, IQ and neurological issues.
How can women stay healthy with a thyroid condition while going through menopause and pregnancy?
Mary Shomon: You always want to get at least 7 hours minimum of sleep per night. Nighttime is when we rebuild our adrenal, growth and thyroid hormones. If we change our sleep patterns, we are shutting down the process too early. Keep a very clean diet free of pesticides and try to go organic when possible. Minimize or avoid sugar and hydrogenated fats. Stay with lean protein whether they are animal or plant-based. Also stay active through walking or some type of activity to detox the body daily. Always have a stress management activity that is physiology relaxing, such as coloring books, sewing/crocheting, meditating, prayer, tai chi, etc. You want to regulate your heart rate and cortisol.
Don’t forget to check out Mary’s latest book with Baywatch actress Gena Nolin’s experience with her diagnosis and daily lifestyle with Thyroid disease in “Beautiful Inside and Out,” along with her new release in March 2016 called, “Your Pregnancy and Thyroid.”