Coronation Street actress Bhavna Limbachia has opened up about suffering from a hereditary condition called hypothyroidism, which has no cure, in a bid to raise awareness and educate others of its symptoms.
The star is best known for her roles as nurse Rana Nazir in Coronation Street and as Alia Khan in the BBC1 comedy series Citizen Khan.
The 32 year old wants to use her platform in the public eye to raise awareness about an illness that has affected her for years, and that she feels could be affecting many more who just don’t know enough about the condition to recognise it.
Bhavna opened up to The Mirror about being diagnosed with hypothyroidism five years ago and how she has dealt with the symptoms of the condition since.
Hypothyroidism, also known as having an underactive thyroid gland, is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones and can leave you feeling tired, depressed and gain weight more easily.
Bhavna explains how she first started noticing how tired she felt, despite having a good night’s sleep.
‘Around five years ago I noticed I was waking up feeling exhausted every day, as if I’d just run a marathon, despite having had eight or nine hours of sleep a night. I’m an active person and my life as an actress is pretty busy.’
Trying to rationalise her symptoms, the actress thought that her hectic lifestyle must be to blame for feeling unwell.
‘At the time I was filming Citizen Khan so initially I thought I was just run down from that.’
However, as time went on Bhavna started to notice more symptoms that can come with hypothyroidism, such as aching muscles, sore joints, dry skin and hair and sensitivity to the cold.
‘I tried to rest a bit more, but then my joints started aching and if I watched television for an hour or two my knees would lock. Initially I thought it was an age thing! But when I explained my symptoms to my doctor – that my hair was getting a bit brittle and that I was sensitive to the cold – I was sent for blood tests.’
There is no cure for having an underactive thyroid, which Bhavna said she found ‘scary’ and ‘overwhelming’.
‘They said there was no cure and I would need medication for ever. That did scare me. I thought it was going to change my life, so being told this felt quite overwhelming.’
But after researching the illness, she felt inspired by how many ‘busy women are leading normal lives’ and decided to look into eating ‘thyroid-friendly foods, including sea vegetables such as kelp and seaweed, and lots of cranberries’.
The Corrie star is now trying to raise awareness about hypothyroidism, admitting that she was ‘ignorant’ in the past.
‘Having this condition only makes me feel down if I dwell on it. The way I see it is there’s nothing I can do about having this, but I can deal with it in a positive way.
‘Initially I didn’t know much about it and, to be honest, I was quite ignorant. If I heard somebody mention they had an under-active thyroid I’d think, “Oh yeah, you’re complaining that you’re tired, it’s nothing”.
‘Now I’ve got it myself I’d really like to raise awareness, because it’s important for people to know that it isn’t the end of the world.’