Hidden illness causes pounds to pile on - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Hidden illness causes pounds to pile on

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(01/24/13) - Imagine you are going about your life, doing all of the healthy things you should be- even staying in tip-top shape. Then you suddenly gain 55 pounds, start to suffer fatigue and depression, and no one can seem to figure out why.

Chondra Hungerford doesn't have to imagine it. "I was body builder, I was a fitness competitor, I was an Olympic power lifter."

She could clean and jerk 200 pounds and bench press 185, but,  in a matter of months, she went from a five foot six inch, 120 pound muscle machine to 176 pounds.  

"I was trapped in this body of a monster and I was horrified," Chondra says.

She was diagnosed with hypo-thyroidism, was told she was allergic to her own hair follicles, and should be treated for mental problem.

Tests revealed her testosterone level was 77; it should have been 40. Her cortisol level was over 1,400; normal is 30. She started researching and found Dr.Hoi Sang U, who immediately tested her for Cushing's Disease. It is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland.  

"The life expectancy is very low. If you can correct it, however, your life completely turns around," Dr. U says.

But, he adds, finding the tumor can be difficult. "Some of these patients could have full blown symptoms and appearance of Cushing's Disease, and yet when you do an MRI scan, you don't see a tumor."

Dr. U pin-pointed Chondra's tumor. He went through Chondra's nose, to the base of the skull where the pituitary gland sits and removed the tumor.
Four months later and 40 pounds lighter, Chondra is back at the gym, working to regain her strength and her life.

Symptoms of Cushing's include weight gain, acne or skin infections, purple marks on the skin of the abdomen, thighs and breasts. Patients also experience excessive hair growth on their face, neck, chest, stomach, and thighs.

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