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 (http://thyroid.about.com) 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