We’ve heard a number of stories over the years about how the Apple Watch has proactively alerted users to potentially life-threatening health problems. Now, a nurse based in Australia is speaking out after she realized data from her Apple Watch could have helped her detect a “rare thyroid problem” after “months of worsening symptoms” much sooner.

In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Lauren Rebecca explained that she was diagnosed with thyroiditis in December. This diagnosis, however, came after months of symptoms including fatigue, temperature sensitivity, and weight gain.

At first, Rebecca attributed these symptoms to burnout and being rundown after serving as a nurse through much of the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, however, the symptoms got bad enough that she paid a visit to her doctor.

An ultrasound of her neck then revealed that she “had half of her thyroid missing,” which is described as “a rare congenital defect known as Thyroid hemiagenesis which only affects about 100 Australians.” This led to Rebecca developing thyroiditis, which is when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and causes the symptoms from which she was suffering.

Fast forward to February, two months after the diagnosis and much longer after the onset of symptoms, Rebecca took a look at the Apple Health app. As an Apple Watch user, the Health app had a variety of information available, including the record of a “dramatic change in her health that if she had known, would have prompted her to seek medical help.”

“I genuinely just went on it to see if everything was turned on,” she said.

“I saw that there were alerts at the top of the app that had never come through as notifications because I didn’t have notifications turned on … I looked through it and that’s when I could see the trend that my Vo2 max had dropped, literally in a matter of days.”

Vo2 max indicates how well your body is absorbing oxygen during exercise, with the drop meaning Lauren could suddenly not take in oxygen as well as she had previously.

Rebecca then took to TikTok to share her findings, using it as an opportunity to encourage fellow Apple Watch users to enable all of their notifications. “Instead of me waiting for the symptoms to get really bad, I could have gone to the doctor back in October, when there was this dramatic drop in a matter of days,” Rebecca explains in the TikTok.

You can learn more about the Apple Watch’s array of health features, and how to enable notifications, in our detailed guide right here.

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Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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