The thyroid gland in your neck regulates everything from metabolism to the heart, digestion, muscles, brain development and bone maintenance.
Even though it does so much, thyroid health problems don't get as much awareness as others.
One woman wants to see that change.
Maggie Hadleigh-West says something was wrong with her health as far back as grade school, and it didn't get better.
"When I was about 21, I started to feel sick all the time, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me," Hadleigh-West said.
Living in Texas as a child, and then New York as a graduate student, nothing was diagnosed.
"As an adult, I went 14 years feeling exhausted all the time. I could never just function properly. I couldn't sleep well," she said.
Finally in her early 30s, she learned when she was younger her thyroid gland was underactive, which can cause fatigue, constipation, hair loss, dry skin, weight gain. Then hers became overactive which can bring symptoms such as fatigue, tremors, heart palpitations, weight loss and in some cases protruding eyes.
"I had too much adrenaline in my system. My heart was beating too rapidly. I was sweating a lot. I could have eaten my house I was so hungry," Hadleigh-West said.
As a filmmaker, she decided to make a documentary about her frustrations and journey to help others.
"Thyroid problems are very common particularly in women as well as, as patients get older there's increasing problems as thyroid disorders as well," explained Acting Chief of LSUHSC Endocrinology Dr. Taniya de Silva.
Dr. de Silva has never treated Maggie, but explains that thyroid disorders can show up in all systems of the body. It can cause fatigue, but that can be a sign of so many other things.
"I think the issue with thyroid disorders is thyroid hormone can affect almost all the cells of the body, the presentation, the symptoms, the signs can be fairly nonspecific. One of the common causes of thyroid disorders is autoimmune thyroid disorders," said Dr. de Silva.
Doctors can diagnose these with a blood test and treat them.
For more on the screenings of 'Sick to Death!' : (The Saturday October 14 premiere is sold out.)
The purpose of this story is to bring awareness to learning the symptoms of thyroid diseases and to get them checked by a doctor. Eyewitness News Medical Watch, LSUHSC and Dr. de Silva are not associated with the content of the film. The editorial content of the film is solely that of the producer.
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