Denise Richards thanks fans for spotting enlarged thyroid during 'Real Housewives' reunion

Denise Richards. Image via Getty Images.

Denise Richards may be a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” rookie, but she’s already seen firsthand how loyal fans of the Bravo franchise can be.

After wrapping her first season as a cast member on the drama-filled reality show, fans couldn’t help but notice Richards looked slightly different during the series’ three-part reunion special. Concerned viewers took to social media, warning the 48-year-old actress that her thyroid appeared to be enlarged.

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“It’s amazing to me in a short time eliminating gluten from my diet how much my thyroid has changed,” Richards wrote in a recent Instagram post. “A few of you pointed out after the #RHOBH reunion that my thyroid was enlarged. You were right, it was something I ignored until pointed out.”

Although it’s unclear whether the former Bond girl and mother-of-three sought medical intervention, she went on to reveal that she has been eliminating gluten from her diet.

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“I had no idea how much our diet can affect our body and for me how toxic gluten really is,” the star continued. “I thank all of you who sent me messages.”

Richards on the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" reunion finale (Photo by: Nicole Weingart/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank)

An enlarged thyroid gland, also known as a goiter, can occur when the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck is producing an abnormal amount of hormones. Goiters can cause neck discomfort, changes to your voice (hoarse voice), coughing or wheezing as well as difficulty breathing or swallowing. According to the American Thyroid Association, thyroid function tests are required to determine whether or not the thyroid is producing too much hormone (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism).

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Although Richards did not disclose whether or not she was diagnosed with a specific thyroid disorder, the connection between thyroid and gluten is somewhat misleading. While it’s true that many people living with autoimmune thyroid disease also have celiac disease, there is not enough evidence to support a diet without gluten improving thyroid function, specifically for people with hypothyroidism.

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

Depending on your thyroid function, healthcare professionals will most likely prescribe medication to regulate hormone production and in some cases, surgically removing the thyroid. After thyroid removal, medication, such as Levothyroxine is safe enough to be taken daily for the rest of a person’s life to regulate hormones without side effects.

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