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Doctors Seeing Younger Thyroid Disorder Patients

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Gaining weight? Feeling tired? Those are pretty generic symptoms which could lead to a number of diagnoses.

Increasingly, they are tied to thyroid disorders. Doctors say they are seeing an increase in the number of cases, and the age of the patients is getting younger.

Erika Jordan is a young woman, but she went to her doctor after feeling listless. “I wanted to take naps during the day.”

Radio personality Lisa Dent initially didn’t think she had anything worth seeing a doctor about. “I think as working women we are always tired, and you don’t notice those symptoms.”

A routine blood test revealed Dent was suffering from an under active thyroid. She’s now on medication. “There is definitely a difference, but it is something that I have to monitor all the time.”

The thyroid is located in the neck, just below the wind pipe. It is kind of the body’s hormonal epicenter.

Each year it is estimated 15 million people living with thyroid disorders go undiagnosed.

“I can’t tell you how many girlfriends I have that have a thyroid problem,” added Dent.

Doctors say the number of cases is on the rise, and the patients are getting younger. Thyroid disorders used to be primarily found in people over 50, but now many patients are in their 20s.

“It could be that as doctors, because we know it is more prevalent, that we are screening for it more routinely,” said Dr. Tricia Moo-Young. “Or there could be an environmental or exposure risk that’s causing it.”

Those risks could include everyday chemicals in cosmetic or pesticides. Stress could also be a factor.

Dr. Moo-Young says under active thyroid, or Hypothyroidism, is by far the most common disorder. It’s usually revealed with a simple blood test or ultra sound.

Erika Jordan noticed a physical change. “My neck was getting puffy, and I had this weight gain and I was working out and eating right.”

Jordan required surgery for Goiter, an enlarged thyroid that had to be removed surgically.

She is still on daily medication, but is feeling much better. “My day is great. My energy level is high,” she said with a bright smile on her face.

It’s estimated 59 million Americans have some type of thyroid problem. Other symptoms include hair loss, sexual dysfunction, and obesity.

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