'Real Housewives' Star Gets Thyroid Heads-up From Viewers

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Denise

Being an eagle-eyed television viewer can be helpful! Just ask “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Denise Richards. Viewers reached out to the star, calling attention to a lump on her neck. She listened to their concerns about the possibility of thyroid disease, admitting “it was something I ignored until pointed out.” 

Swollen thyroid nodules like Richards’ could indicate one of numerous thyroid diseases, says Sameep Kadakia, MD, ear, nose, and throat specialist and head and neck surgeon with Premier ENT Associates. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, makes a hormone that controls the body’s metabolism. When it’s swollen, it could mean it isn’t functioning properly.  

“A diseased thyroid can affect numerous processes in the body, including temperature, weight, and bone health,” Dr. Kadakia explains. There are several types of thyroid disease, he adds. The most common occur when the body produces too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), or too little hormone (hypothyroidism). Thyroid cancer is rare. 

Screening for thyroid disease can be as simple as a blood test. In some instances an endocrinologist or an ENT might order an ultrasound or biopsy. 

Dr. Kadakia urges everyone to “be vigilant about your body. If something seems unusual, see your doctor.”