There have been plenty of jokes about so-called “mom brain” (the struggle is real), but what if that constant daily brain fog is a signal of something more serious? That was the case with “Selling Sunset” star Heather Rae El Moussa, who revealed to Today.com her diagnosis with an autoimmune disorder.
“I remember saying to my assistant, ‘I feel like I’m dead,” the 36-year-old realtor shares, “my brain was so tired, my body was so tired, I was exhausted all the time, and no amount of sleep could make it better.”
El Moussa and her husband Tarek, 42, welcomed their first child in January. Four months postpartum, what she assumed was normal new mom tiredness and brain fog became worrisome for the TV star.
“I was like, I’m probably just foggy because of mom brain,” El Moussa recalls. The other troubling symptom was a drastic drop in her milk supply right around the time she began experiencing what she referred to as “extreme fatigue.”
That prompted her to schedule a visit with her doctor. Later that day, El Moussa learned her pregnancy had triggered a common autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s disease, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate many other functions in the body.
“When [my doctor] told me what I had, I was in total shock,” the mom tells Today. She was prescribed medication to manage the disease and says she’s feeling much better now. Because of her depletion in milk supply, she’s now bottle-feeding baby Tristan.
Her husband Tarek, of “Flip or Flop” fame, had previously battled thyroid cancer after a viewer, who was a registered nurse, contacted the show’s producers to suggest he check a lump on his thyroid.
Hashimoto’s disease is 4 to 10 times more common in women than in men, often developing between the ages of 30 to 50, which happens to coincide with many women’s childbearing years. Pregnancy may sometimes trigger the condition because of rapid shifts in immune function throughout each trimester.
Common symptoms are fatigue, weight gain, constipation and thinning hair. El Moussa says she had telltale signs, although she didn’t know it at the time. If left untreated, it can lead to thyroid damage, high blood pressure and heart disease. If you’re feeling any symptoms of extreme fatigue and brain fog or noticing other symptoms that seem worrying to you, reach out to your primary care provider.