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Living Well with Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You... That You Need to Know Paperback – March 7, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

As many as one in eight women have a thyroid condition. In Living Well with Hypothyroidism, Mary Shomon outlines the most common of these--too little thyroid hormones in the body. Weight gain, depression, fatigue, and what patients call "brain fog, Brillo hair, and prune skin" result. Because the symptoms of hypothyroidism mimic so many other conditions--chronic fatigue, PMS, clinical depression--it can be very tricky to diagnose, especially since patients with HMOs may not get the thorough testing they need.

Shomon knows of what she speaks: she's a health writer and thyroid patient herself. She also manages a thyroid Web site and writes a newsletter on hypothyroidism. In Living Well, she offers an extensively researched guide to this complex condition. She covers conventional, alternative, and late-breaking approaches to treatment--such as challenging the gold standard of Synthroid as the thyroid replacement therapy of choice. (Synthroid replaces T4, the less active of the two thyroid hormones, and Shomon features new research on adding T3--the more potent thyroid hormone--to treatment.)

With her down-to-earth, patient-centered approach, Shomon explains everything from how to choose a thyroid specialist to how calcium, antidepressants, and a high-fiber diet affect thyroid hormone absorption. The book includes a chapter on depression, which is a typical misdiagnosis of hypothyroidism--as well as a symptom that often persists even after treatment. She also covers infertility (women who are hypothyroid don't ovulate as regularly and miscarry more frequently) and thyroid cancer, one of the less common causes of hypothyroidism. She explains how to spot hypothyroidism in kids, and ends with a glossary, international resources, and journal references.

Shomon creates a sense of community by excerpting e-mails from her vast network of patients--voices that bring a sense of humor so often missing from health books. One quibble: she could have avoided the antidoctor stance in the beginning of her book, where she blames physicians, rather than incomplete science, for the misdiagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism. --Rebecca Taylor


"Hypothyroidism is a common, very treatable disorder that is also poorly managed by doctors. In this first-rate book by Mary Shomon...the disorder, its myths, and medicine's successes and failures at dealing with it are thoroughly examined. This is not a book that rehashes old facts on thyroid disease. Shomon instead challenges patients and their doctors to look deeper and try harder to resolve the complicated symptoms of hypothyroidism...In a fascinating chapter, Shomon, who also has a Web site ( and an online newsletter about the disease, explores recent evidence that the addition of the thyroid hormone T3 to the standard T4 (levothyroxine) may help some people feel better. In addition, the section on babies born with hypothyroidism, although brief, has the best advice on how to give medication to an infant that I've seen. As Shomon writes: 'or years, thyroid problems have been downplayed, misunderstood and portrayed as unimportant.' With he! r advocacy, perhaps no more." --Shari Roan -- Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2000

"If I could recommend only one book on thyroid problems for my patients, this would be it." -- Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D., Founder and Medical Director of HER Place Centers

"Vital for hypothryoid patients who want to get well, and for physicians who want to do so." -- Dr. John Lowe, Director of Research of the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: WmMorrowPB; 1st edition (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380808986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380808984
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

398 of 408 people found the following review helpful By Georgie on March 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Mary Shomon's book is the first I have read (out of a LOT of books) that tells the whole truth about hypothyroidism, as experienced by a patient who has been there. I wish that every doctor that treats thyroid patients could be made to read this! So many doctors seem to think that hypo is a simple, easily treated disease, and it isn't. They also tend to focus on individual symptoms without looking for the overall CAUSE. If I had had this book years ago it would have saved me several years of suffering and being told there was nothing wrong with me. Mary's list of symptoms is very thorough, her book is easy to read and understand, and it tells the real truth. I especially like the way she pays attention to the emotional impact of this disease and the depression that often accompanies it. Her weblinks are very helpful in finding out more information. This book is EXCELLENT, and a great resource. It can literally change people's lives. I could barely put it down once I started reading. I can't recommend it enough, especially for newly diagnosed patients or those who SUSPECT they are hypo but haven't been able to find a doctor to test them. Mary's list of symptoms is great to take to your doctor to help them see the overall picture, and her compassion and understanding are very comforting and empowering for patients. She makes sense out of what to most of us is a very confusing disease. If you only buy one book on this subject, make it this one!
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197 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Klisiewicz on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first heard of Mary Shomon through her excellent web site on hypothyroidism. Once I discovered that she had written this book, I promptly ordered it and read it from cover to cover. This book literally saved my life. Throughout my life, I have been ultrasensitive to hormonal changes and have suffered from a pituitary tumor. After my daughter was born, I was not the same person. My post-partum depression lasted a year and was coupled with other physical symptoms I could not explain. My primary care doctor was sympathetic and ran bunches of tests but they yielded nothing. Meanwhile, I got sicker and sicker with no hope in sight. Then I found and read this book. All of my symptoms were listed as hypothyroid symptoms. I had numerous risk factors for thyroid disease. I even found my specialist through this book and Mary's web site.
This book is a total eye-opener. Mary is a passionate advocate for patients everywhere who have lost hope. Her writing is clear and concise and explains complex information in a simple way. Not many writers can do that. In fact, this book is so good that I have recommended it to numerous friends of mine who also have thyroid problems. Even hyperthyroid patients should read it because they could end up hypothyroid.
Read it and then read it again. All medical books should have Mary Shomon at the helm. The world would be a much better place for it.
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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is far and away THE best book on hypothyroidism on the market: thoroughly researched, chock-full of useful information, and highly reassuring. Ms. Shomon knows her subject from several angles (as a patient, as a medical writer, and as proprietress of an outstanding web site on the topic), and she's done a great job of organizing and presenting the information clearly and without unnecessary medical-speak. I don't feel she is "anti-doctor": I was one of the millions of hypothyroid people whose symptoms were dismissed by a series of doctors with "get some exercise and go on a diet," until I finally lucked into one who routinely had all his new patients get a COMPLETE blood work-up. It's not that doctors don't know about hypothyroidism, but their prejudices against fat people blind them to what, in many cases, is the obvious explanation for someone's lack of energy, puffiness, and inexplicable weight gain. Granted, there's still a lot that is unknown about the genesis of the problem and how best to treat it, but I think that doctors' bias is often the deciding factor in whether the problem is even recognized! If someone suspects that they're hypothyroid, the best thing they can do is to become informed about their condition and become a more assertive patient -- and this book gives you plenty of ammunition, as well as moral support. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ten years ago my HMO doctor said I was a "little" hypothyroid, handed me a pill (levothyroxine) and said I'd be back to normal in six weeks. What an incredibly uninformed statement that turned out to be! Is "normal" being freezing cold when others are hot? Is "normal" going to bed at 8 PM every night from sheer exhaustion? I refuse to believe that is "normal"! This book recommends finding a doctor (probably holistic) who will listen to you and consider using alternative treatments until you are symptom-free and truly "normal" again. It gives *many* other practical suggestions, such as not taking iron or calcium supplements at the same time as your thyroid medicine. And perhaps most of all it is validating -- it is tremendously wonderful to know that I am not alone in wondering why that magic little levothyroxine pill doesn't live up to its promise; that I'm not the only thyroid patient who was given no information about the disease; and that I'm not the only thyroid patient whose doctor blames her ongoing symptoms to "stress" or some other enigmatic cause. And, oddly enough, it may have given me an explanation to why my mother has lost the outer half of her eyebrows -- that is a complaint of many undiagnosed thyroid patients! From now on I am not going to let my doctor blow me off. If necessary, I am going to go outside my HMO and find a doctor who is willing to listen to my complaints and work with me to see if I can feel alive once again.
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