'Bay Watch' beauty Gena Lee Nolin goes public with private battle against thyroid disease

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Actress and model Gena Lee Nolin has had a glamorous career.  

She starred in several hit television series, including “Bay Watch” in which she played a sexy lifeguard who saved lives. 

But behind the scenes, in Nolin’s private life, she was fighting an ugly battle against thyroid disease.

Now she’s going public with her story in hopes of helping others.

Nolin talked about her struggles on "Good Morning! Arizona," along with her doctor, Alan Christianson, a thyroid specialist and co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease.” 

Nolin said she first starting seeing symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease with the birth of her first son. However, she was misdiagnosed as having post postpartum depression.

As she coped with her symptoms through the years, Nolin said things really came to a head during her third pregnancy, when she experienced heart palpitations and was hospitalized in her third trimester.  

Months later, doctor’s finally figured out Nolin had Hashimoto’s, a disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid.

Christianson said there are three main signs that could indicate people have a problem with their thyroid: weight gain, hair loss or fatigue.

“While these symptoms can be indicators for a lot of different things, when they occur without explanation, don’t ignore them. Go see a doctor," he said.

"The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, produces hormones that influence virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body," the website WorldThyroidDay.com explains. "The thyroid regulates the body's metabolism -- the rate at which the body produces energy from nutrients and oxygen -- and affects critical body functions, such as energy level and heart rate."

After a long and painful struggle, Nolin decided to go public because she said she doesn’t want anyone to suffer like she did. 

She started a Facebook page called “Thyroid Sexy.” 

She posts about her daily trials, shares information and tips, and interacts with others suffering from thyroid disease.

World Thyroid Day, "a day to promote awareness and understanding of thyroid health and the advances made in treating thyroid diseases," is Friday, May 25. 

Nolin and Christianson will host an online thyroid boot camp, which will include a live webcast at 5 p.m. Arizona time.

Information will be posted on www.TheThyroidQuiz.com and on http://www.facebook.com/thyroidsexy.