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Obese from Secret Disease


Imagine exercising everyday, eating very little and still gaining weight.


That's what happens to hundreds of people with a rare metabolic disorder that often goes undiagnosed for years.


There is hope and help.


Obese from Secret Disease


As a young teen, Jaimie Augustine weighed 130 pounds. She started gaining weight at 15. At 22 she weighed 220.


"I was at the gym every day for an hour and a half; I was consuming 1,000 calories or less a day," says Jaimie.


Jaimie also had insomnia, excess hair growth, severe acne, depression and stopped menstruating. But it took five years before she found a doctor who recognized the symptoms of this mystery disease.


"I felt validation because I had friends and family that didn't believe me. They're just thinking, 'Oh, you're sneaking Oreos at night,'" she says.


Jaimie was diagnosed with Cushing's disease.


"Virtually all the symptoms and physical features of Cushing's can be associated with other diseases -- and diseases that are more common than Cushing's," says Dr. William Ludlam, and endocrinologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon.


It's caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland that imbalances your hormones. Glands on the kidneys then release too much of the hormone cortisol.


"So despite what you do, your metabolism has been hijacked by too much of a hormone that you actually need to live," says Dr. Ludlam.


Surgery like this can remove the tumor -- with the greatest chance for a cure in the hands of an experienced neurosurgeon. Jaimie's first surgery didn't work, so last fall she had a second procedure. It worked. She's already lost 40 pounds.


"Now I have my life back," says Jaimie.


And she has a future she can look forward to instead of dread.


No one knows exactly how many people have cushing's disease because it often goes undiagnosed.


But about one-thousand people are told they have it each year in the U.S.


The first step in diagnosing it is to find an experienced endocrinologist -- the diagnosis can then be confirmed through blood and urine tests.


Some centers also treat it through drugs and radiation.


Log on to www.ivanhoe.com for more information.


Watch the latest Medical Breakthrough every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on NewsChannel 8 at 5 and every Monday and Wednesday on NewsChannel 8 at 10.

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