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Patient Voices: Thyroid Disease

Patient Voices: Thyroid Disease

The thyroid is a tiny gland in the neck whose overproduction or underproduction of hormones can cause a host of problems — including Graves’ disease, hyperthyroidism and the little-known Hashimoto’s syndrome. Here, four men and women speak about thyroid disease and its impact on their lives.

Do you or does someone you know have a thyroid disease? Tell us about how you manage your condition.

  1. After Treatment, Reaching Out to Others

    Sharon Barbour, 48, Palo Alto, Calif.

    Jim Wilson for The New York Times

    Sharon Barbour, a legal secretary, woke up one morning with puffiness under her eyes. She went to the doctor thinking it was an allergy, for which her doctor gave her a prescription. Then, Ms. Barbour began to have worse symptoms, including anxiety, tremors and gastrointestinal issues. A new doctor ran a series of tests and determined that Ms. Barbour was suffering from an overactive thyroid, a condition called Graves’ disease.

    Ms. Barbour didn’t like the side effects associated with anti-thyroid medications, so she chose to undergo radioactive therapy. In this treatment, a patient swallows a pill containing radioactive iodine. Since the thyroid processes iodine, it takes up the radioactive material as well, causing parts of the organ to die off.

    Ms. Barbour found that educating herself about Graves’ disease and its treatment options helped her find the best strategy for managing her condition. She soon became a volunteer for the Graves’ Disease Foundation, where she answers questions posed by other patients on the foundation’s online message boards.

    Ms. Barbour takes synthetic thyroid hormone daily to compensate for her damaged thyroid. While it is something she will have to do for the rest of her life, “most of the time, I’m not thinking about it at all,” she said.

  2. Staying in Tune With Her Body

    Dana Smith, 49, San Francisco

    Dana Smith, a research scientist, began to have cold-like symptoms in 1998. One doctor prescribed allergy medication and sent her home, but when her symptoms did not…

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