The Doctors take on the latest health headlines.
Struggling with Anorexia
At 5'8 and 105 pounds, Ali knows that people think she's too thin, but she says she still needs to lose another 10 to 15 pounds. Diagnosed at age 10 with anorexia nervosa, the 23-year-old restricts her food intake to 700 calories a day and keeps a container in her room in which she purges five to 10 times a day.
"I think it's going to kill me," Ali says. "And I want to live. I just don't want to gain weight. And it's so hard because they say you have to gain weight to get better."
Anorexia is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a restrictive diet and extreme weight loss. People who have anorexia often equate being thin with self-worth and in Ali's case, will starve themselves to the point that they cannot help but eat, and then — fearing they will gain weight — force themselves to throw up.
Up to as many as 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, but, only one in 10 receives treatment.
Former Miss America Kirsten Haglund is one of those people. Having battled anorexia since she was 12 years old, Kirsten spent years denying that she had an eating disorder, but finally sought help at age 15. She and psychologist Dr. Patricia Pitts join The Doctors to ask Ali to make a commitment to get help.
• Find out if Ali will take the first — and most difficult — step on the road to recovery.
• For more information about eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association. Or, call NEDA's toll-free confidential helpline at (800) 931-2237.
Living with Alopecia
Hair model and actress Georgia was taking a shower in 2007 when she noticed strands of hair coming off in her hands. Afterward, as she was brushing her hair over the bathroom sink, the basin slowly filled up with clumps of hair. In a period of two weeks, all of Georgia's hair fell out.
"I was scared by it all because I knew it was a reality," Georgia says.
Doctors diagnosed Georgia with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair on the scalp and the body to fall out. There is no known cause or cure for alopecia.
Georgia kept her hair loss a secret for about a year, while she underwent treatments to combat the condition. But she says she slowly grew to accept herself without hair.
"Through my alopecia, I got to focus on what really matters," Georgia explains. "It's now at a point where I love being bald."
• To learn more about alopecia, visit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Period Triggers Lung Collapse Initially diagnosed with being pre-menopausal, Laura dealt with her severe cramping, stomach pain and cough in silence — until her lung collapsed.
With Laura's symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath, doctors believed she might have suffered a heart attack, but an X-ray revealed the truth: 60 percent of Laura's lung had collapsed. A collapsed lung occurs when air escapes and fills up the space outside the lung but inside the chest.
Doctors reinflated Laura's lung but it caved in two more times, each worse than the last. It was then that doctors realized that Laura was living with a rare disorder — catamenial pneumothorax — which causes a woman's lungs to collapse in conjunction with her menstrual cycle, due to an influx of endometrial tissue that has migrated from the uterus up to the lungs.
Endometriosis is a disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body. The endometriotic implants that settled into Laura's lungs are hormone-responsive, so when she had her period they would expand, create holes, air would escape and her lung would collapse.
"They actually had to remove my ovaries so I wouldn't have any more estrogen," Laura explains. "And, hopefully, no more lung collapses."