Joanna Page health: Gavin and Stacey star on life-long medication after health scare

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Joanna Page’s portrayal of Stacey in the hit sitcom Gavin and melted hearts across the UK. Her on-screen exuberance was infectious but Joanna lost signature energy one year. The star started experiencing chronic fatigue and bouts of shivering.

“I just started to feel I was in slow motion all the time,” she said in an interview with Wales Online.

“I just had no energy. I’d get out of bed, load the washing machine, and then be so drained I’d have to sit around staring into space for the rest of the day.”

Joanna added: “And I was continually freezing cold. I’d have the central heating on full blast, be wearing three layers of clothing including thermals, and my husband James would have to walk around in shorts because it was so hot in the house.”

Husband, Emmerdale actor James Thornton, 45, eventually persuaded her to go to the doctor.

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Tests revealed that Joanna had an underactive thyroid and she was prescribed medication she must take for the rest of her life.

Joanna described how the medications are a vital lifeline for her and that she makes sure she is never without them, lest she face life-threatening health risks.

After forgetting to take her medication one occasion, the Gavin and Stacey star’s symptoms came roaring back, she added.

What is an underactive thyroid?

According to the NHS, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones.

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Common signs of an underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain and feeling depressed.

How is it treated?

“An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is usually treated by taking daily hormone replacement tablets called levothyroxine,” explains the NHS.

As the health body explains, levothyroxine replaces the thyroxine hormone, which your thyroid does not make enough of.

It adds: “You’ll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.”

What causes an underactive thyroid?

In the UK, the most common cause of an underactive thyroid is autoimmune thyroiditis, which is known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

“This is when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, damaging it and stopping it producing enough thyroid hormone,” explains Bupa.

According to the health body, if you’ve had your thyroid gland removed or radioactive iodine treatment for an overactive thyroid, this can cause an underactive thyroid too.

“Radiotherapy for thyroid cancer can also lead to an underactive thyroid,” it adds.

Other causes of underactive thyroid include:

  • Some medicines, such as lithium and amiodarone
  • An infection caused by a virus (thyroiditis)
  • Pregnancy – some women develop an underactive thyroid in the six months after their baby is born.

Am I at risk?

Although anyone can develop hypothyroidism, certain groups are at a higher risk.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you’re at an increased risk if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are older than 60
  • Have a family history of thyroid disease
  • Have an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes or celiac disease
  • Have been treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications
  • Received radiation to your neck or upper chest
  • Have had thyroid surgery (partial thyroidectomy)
  • Have been pregnant or delivered a baby within the past six months.

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