Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall Back After Fighting Medical Condition

His signature red curls are cut shorter now, and his face looks much fuller, but Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall’s voice is still strong.

The 55-year-old is back with Simply Red, touring again, and was showered with praise for a recent show-stopping performance in Dublin. But it’s been a battle for him to get back to the stage, after being diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2014.

Hucknall had shunned the public eye for the past four years, after suffering from chronic fatigue, weight gain, and depression.

In an interview with UK’s Mirror, Hucknall said:

“I’m not fully recovered yet but it’s not as bad as it was. It was undiagnosed for years and the specialist I saw told me I’d probably had it since 1993. I had no idea. I knew I had aching joints and was tired all the time and had weight gain. But I thought it was simply growing old.”

He went on to say:

“It’s amazing how many side-effects there are. I had mood swings, aching joints, fatigue, lots of connecting things with that. Depression is also connected to the underactive thyroid as the illness prolongs.”

“But it’s not something that is talked about very much. There might be lots of people with this illness and if me speaking out about it raises the whole issue, and connects with somebody who then goes to the doctor and gets it treated, then great.”

Although his physician recommended medication for the condition, Hucknall preferred another route:

“I decided to recover very slowly by not taking the prescribed medication and doing it through diet alone.

“In addition to caffeine, I had to cut out cruciferous vegetables – that’s cauliflower and cabbage, etc – and eat more fish. I also had to get more selenium in my diet and take various vitamin and mineral supplements.”

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a 2-inch-long, butterfly-shaped gland weighing less than 1 ounce.  Located in the front of the neck below the larynx, or voice box, it has two lobes, one on each side of the windpipe.  The thyroid is one of the glands that make up the endocrine system.  The glands of the endocrine system produce and store hormones and release them into the bloodstream.  The hormones then travel through the body and direct the activity of the body’s cells.
Thyroid and parathyroid gland.

NIDDKlogo_03The thyroid gland makes two thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 is made from T4 and is the more active hormone, directly affecting the tissues.  Thyroid hormones affect metabolism, brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, and cholesterol levels.

Thyroid hormone production is regulated by TSH, which is made by the pituitary gland in the brain.

Thyroid hormone production is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is made by the pituitary gland in the brain. When thyroid hormone levels in the blood are low, the pituitary releases more TSH.  When thyroid hormone levels are high, the pituitary responds by dropping TSH production.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a disorder that occurs when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone to meet the body’s needs.  Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism—the way the body uses energy—and affects nearly every organ in the body. Without enough thyroid hormone, many of the body’s functions slow down.  About 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older has hypothyroidism.

Women are much more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism.  The disease is also more common among people older than age 60

What causes hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism has several causes, including:

Hashimoto’s disease

  • Hashimoto’s disease, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States.1  Hashimoto’s disease is a form of chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland.  Hashimoto’s disease is also an autoimmune disorder.

Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid

Thyroiditis causes stored thyroid hormone to leak out of the thyroid gland.  At first, the leakage raises hormone levels in the blood, leading to hyperthyroidism—when thyroid hormone levels are too high––that lasts for 1 or 2 months.  Most people then develop hypothyroidism before the thyroid is completely healed.

Several types of thyroiditis can cause hyperthyroidism followed by hypothyroidism:

  • Subacute thyroiditis. This condition involves painful inflammation and enlargement of the thyroid.  Experts are not sure what causes subacute thyroiditis, but it may be related to a viral or bacterial infection.  The condition usually goes away on its own in a few months.
  • Postpartum thyroiditis. This type of thyroiditis develops after a woman gives birth.  For more information, see the section titled “What happens with pregnancy and thyroid conditions?”
  • Silent thyroiditis. This type of thyroiditis is called “silent” because it is painless, as is postpartum thyroiditis, even though the thyroid may be enlarged.  Like postpartum thyroiditis, silent thyroiditis is probably an autoimmune condition and sometimes develops into permanent hypothyroidism.

Congenital hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism that is present at birth

  • Some babies are born with a thyroid that is not fully developed or does not function properly.  If untreated, congenital hypothyroidism can lead to mental retardation and growth failure.  Early treatment can prevent these complications, so most newborns in the United States are screened for hypothyroidism.

Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid

  • When part of the thyroid is removed, the remaining part may produce normal amounts of thyroid hormone, but some people who have this surgery develop hypothyroidism.  Removal of the entire thyroid always results in hypothyroidism.Part or all of the thyroid may be surgically removed as a treatment for
    • hyperthyroidism
    • a large goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid that may cause the neck to appear swollen and can interfere with normal breathing and swallowing
    • thyroid nodules, which are noncancerous tumors, called adenomas, or lumps in the thyroid that can produce excess thyroid hormone
    • thyroid cancer

Radiation treatment of the thyroid

  • Radioactive iodine, a common treatment for hyperthyroidism, gradually destroys the cells of the thyroid.  Most people who receive radioactive iodine treatment eventually develop hypothyroidism.  People with Hodgkin’s disease, other lymphomas, and head or neck cancers are treated with radiation, which can also damage the thyroid.

Less commonly, hypothyroidism is caused by too much or too little iodine in the diet or by abnormalities of the pituitary gland.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism has many symptoms that can vary from person to person.  Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism are

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • a puffy face
  • cold intolerance
  • joint and muscle pain
  • constipation
  • dry skin
  • dry, thinning hair
  • decreased sweating
  • heavy or irregular menstrual periods and impaired fertility
  • depression
  • slowed heart rate

However, hypothyroidism develops slowly, so many people don’t notice symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms more specific to Hashimoto’s disease are a goiter and a feeling of fullness in the throat.

How is hypothyroidism treated?

Health care providers treat hypothyroidism with synthetic thyroxine, a medication that is identical to the hormone T4.  The exact dose will depend on the patient’s age and weight, the severity of the hypothyroidism, the presence of other health problems, and whether the person is taking other drugs that might interfere with how well the body uses thyroid hormone.

Health care providers test TSH levels about 6 to 8 weeks after a patient begins taking thyroid hormone and make any necessary adjustments to the dose.  Each time the dose is adjusted, the blood is tested again.  Once a stable dose is reached, blood tests are normally repeated in 6 months and then once a year.

Hypothyroidism can almost always be completely controlled with synthetic thyroxine, as long as the recommended dose is taken every day as instructed.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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