What is hypothyroidism? Symptoms, test and treatment for underactive thyroid as Chris Kamara reveals diagnosis

Chris Kamara told his Twitter followers that he had been suffering with symptoms for 18 months

Football legend Chris Kamara has revealed he has been “suffering in silence” with the health condition hypothyroidism.

But what is hypothyroidism and what did Chris Kamara say?

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Here’s what you need to know.

Football legend Chris Kamara has revealed he has been “suffering in silence” with the health condition hypothyroidism (Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

‘With medication I am on the mend’

Kamara told his Twitter followers that he had been suffering with symptoms for a year and a half, before finding out a month ago that he has the condition hypothyroidism.

Kamara wrote on Twitter: “Having suffered in silence myself for 18 months, I am now one month on after finding out my problem is Hypothyroidism! With medication I am on the mend.

His announcement comes as Mental Health Awareness Week begins this week, which raises awareness of mental health conditions and aims to enable open conversations surrounding them.

Kamara added: “Really brought it home 2me that nobody knows what’s going on inside your head unless you tell somebody #MentalHealthAwareness”.

What is hypothyroidism?

An underactive thyroid gland - also known as hypothyroidism - is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.

There's no way of preventing an underactive thyroid and most cases are caused either by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and damaging it, or by damage to the thyroid that occurs during some treatments for an overactive thyroid or thyroid cancer, says the NHS.

What are the symptoms?

“Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are often similar to those of other conditions, and they usually develop slowly, so you may not notice them for years,” the NHS added.

You should see your GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid if you have symptoms including:

- tiredness

- weight gain

- depression

- being sensitive to the cold

- dry skin and hair

- muscle aches

To find out whether you have a thyroid problem you will need to have a thyroid function test, which is where a sample of blood is tested to measure your hormone levels.

Both men and women can have an underactive thyroid, although it's usually more common in women. Children can also develop an underactive thyroid and some babies are born with it.

What is the treatment for hypothyroidism?

Treatment for an underactive thyroid involves taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to raise your thyroxine levels.

You'll usually need treatment for the rest of your life, but with proper treatment, “you should be able to lead a normal, healthy life,” says the NHS.

However, if an underactive thyroid isn't treated, it can lead to complications, including heart disease, goitre and pregnancy problems, so if you have any of the symptoms and suspect you may have hypothyroidism you should see your GP.