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

"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star is grateful to eagle-eyed viewers who noticed an issue she missed.
Denise Richards
Denise Richards is thankful for fans who tuned into "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" reunion -- and not just for ratings reasons.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Last month's "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" reunion featured passive-aggressive comments, teary confessions and bold fashions, but it wasn't just the drama and the dozens of bedazzled barrettes (all worn by Dorit Kemsley) that caught viewers' attention.

Amid the usual spectacle, some eagle-eyed fans noticed that actress-turned-reality TV star Denise Richards looked different than she usually does — and they took to social media to let her know all about it.

This wasn't a case of post-show snark or trollish comments about her appearance. These fans were genuinely concerned when they noticed Richard's neck appeared swollen, with many of them suggesting her thyroid was enlarged.

"It’s amazing to me in a short time eliminating gluten from my diet how much my thyroid has changed," wrote alongside a recent photo. "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."

Richards took the comments seriously and took action by changing her diet.

Denise Richards
Viewers who tuned into "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" reunion in July spotted more than just big drama on screen.Nicole Weingart/Bravo

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

She added the hashtag "#selfcare."

The swelling caused by an enlarged thyroid is called a goiter, and while Richards credits a gluten-free diet with eliminating the issue for her, she didn't reveal whether or not she's under a doctor's care, and others may not find that same approach helpful.

According to the Mayo Clinic, more common ways of handling the problem include simple observation (if there are no other signs of thyroid disease), thyroid hormone replacement, surgery and treatment with radioactive iodine.

A doctor may also choose to do a biopsy as well to find out if the growth is cancerous, which is just what happened when HGTV star Tarek El Moussa sought treatment for an enlarged thyroid after one of his own fans spotted a problem during a "Flip or Flop" marathon in 2013.

Registered nurse Ryan Reade noticed a lump while watching the back-to-back episodes and reached out to the show's producers to get word to El Moussa.

"I noticed that at certain angles, at certain times, it just caught my eye that Tarek had a lump on his throat," Reade told TODAY in 2015. "And I thought it was something that needed to be brought to his attention."

She turned out to be right about that — and she turned out to be a lifesaver, too.

El Moussa discovered he had stage 2 thyroid cancer and underwent successful treatment that involved surgery to have his thyroid and lymph nodes removed, as well as radioactive iodine.