‘It’s not anorexia, it’s a thyroid issue’
Actor Jenny Mollen (wife of American Pie actor, Jason Biggs) took to Instagram recently to share an image of herself, which could show someone in the grips of anorexia.
But rather than having an eating disorder, the actor, who had a baby six months ago, notes she’s most likely suffering from a thyroid issue.
She writes about how she kept losing weight after giving birth, but didn’t think there was anything wrong.
“I don’t know what it says about me that I got this thin and didn’t think there was anything wrong,” she admits.
But when she noticed a bulge in her neck, she took herself to the doctor. While at the time of her post she says she’s still waiting for her blood test results, her doctor told her he thinks she has a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease.
So what is Grave’s disease?
Grave’s disease is a condition that affects your thyroid and causes it to be overactive (hyperthyroidism). In fact, it is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.
To go back a step, the thyroid is a gland in your neck that controls important metabolic processes. When your thyroid is underactive, you may experience symptoms such as weight gain, feeling sluggish, and constipation.
But when your thyroid is overactive, you can experience symptoms such as feeling jittery, palpitations, losing weight unexpectedly, sweating more, muscle weakness or trembling, along with irritability.
While Jenny’s picture clearly shows her weight loss, she also noticed other symptoms like heat intolerance, losing hair and, let’s assume, irritability. (Or, as she writes, thinking your husband is “being a dick”.)
Graves’ disease can also affect your eyes, causing inflammation and protruding or swollen eyes. It can also affect the skin on your shins, which can become thicker and reddened.
The symptoms of Graves’ disease are familiar to Laurin. Laurin was 30 when she gave birth to her second child and started to feel ‘off’.
She had uncontrollable hand shaking, extreme sensitivity to light and blurring of her vision. Her concentration levels took a dive; she felt extremely anxious all the time, had diarrhoea and suffered heart palpitations. Plus, she was constantly ravenous.
“Some nights after dinner I’d then order a pizza home-delivered and had no problem eating the whole thing.”
Despite her constant need to eat, she lost 10-12 kilos in a month (without doing any exercise).
“The overarching feeling was that I just didn’t feel like myself and it was the most disturbing and unsettling feeling… I constantly felt foggy and ‘off colour’.”
It wasn’t until Laurin’s mother-in-law pushed her to get checked by a doctor that Laurin found out she had Graves’ disease, something she’d never heard of before.
What should you do if you think you have it?
If you think you may have Graves’ disease, the first thing you should do is make an appointment with your GP.
Your GP will take a history from you, do an examination and can then order blood tests.
Thankfully, there are ways you can manage the condition. This can include medications, radioiodine therapy and, if needed, surgery. You’ll also need regular blood tests to check your hormone levels.
When Laurin finally saw a specialist, she was shocked to hear her endocrinologist say she was “one of the most extreme cases [of Graves’ disease] she’d ever seen”.
Thankfully, as soon as she started medication, Laurin began to feel like her “old self” again. She’s thrilled to report her symptoms are now completely under control.
While Jenny Mollen is still waiting to confirm her diagnosis, hopefully she’ll soon be able to say the same thing.
For more on this topic, these are the top 8 foods to eat for thyroid health, plus what to put on your plate for a healthy heart at any age.
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