Will Hashimoto's End Liam Gallagher's Singing Career?

Tim Locke

September 24, 2019

The former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has spoken about how Hashimoto's thyroiditis might shorten his career but a specialist tells Medscape News UK the condition is very treatable.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is typically more common in middle-aged women and can run in families.

Liam Gallagher first talked about his diagnosis and hoarse voice in 2017, including in an interview with the Guardian .

Now, ahead of a 47th birthday homecoming concert in Manchester in an interview with Apple's Beats 1 he's talked about how the condition might end his career: "I’m ain’t going to get any bigger. If anything, it’s only going to get worse. You are in that zone now, you’re looking about and you’re going. All right. I kind of see what’s going on but, it’s all about the journey man.”

However, he was reflective about his future career: "If it lasts 10 years, it lasts 10 years. If it lasts 5 years, it lasts 5 years. If it ends tomorrow, I’ve still had a f-ing blinder do you know what I mean?"

He continued saying Hashimoto’s disease "makes your voice a lot hoarser. That’s some of the symptoms.”

Dr Paul Jenkins is a consultant physician and endocrinologist at The London Endocrine Centre, and a board member of The Thyroid Trust. He spoke to Medscape News UK.

Q&A

How can Hashimoto's affect the vocal cords?

If it's untreated, it does cause the cords to be swollen, and to result in a hoarse voice. That's one of the classic signs of an underactive thyroid.

What about the singing style?

With a change in their vocal range, the tenor of their voice, in their singing.

Effective treatment should be able to restore this but not always.

And will it, as Liam Gallagher fears, worsen over time?

No, it should not worsen over time. But most of us don't use our vocal cords so strenuously day-to-day. If you're really straining them I guess it's conceivable, but it shouldn't really worsen.

Is a 'rock-and-roll' lifestyle unhelpful for Hashimoto's?

No, I don't think you could say that. Hashimoto's disease is a very common autoimmune condition of the thyroid gland, where the body's immune system starts attacking it.

Liam Gallagher spoke of it possibly ending his career. Would a more positive attitude be helpful?

That's his thoughts on it. I can't say whether it's positive or negative, it depends on one's overall context.

He's been out of the public eye for some time. So he hasn't been singing as much as he used to.

What kind of treatment regime might he be following?

It is thyroid hormone replacement. It's taking exactly the same hormone as the body is not making but in a tiny pill form.

It is for life, because once the thyroid gland has been destroyed, it does not ever heal itself in this condition.

Are some cases more complex?

Some patients need additional treatment, not just with the thyroxin, but they can continue to have symptoms of underactive thyroid, even if they're taking apparently adequate doses of thyroxin. And we increasingly recognise that they require T3, which is the other active thyroid hormone, in addition to thyroxin.

Is Hashimoto's hard to diagnose in primary care?

No, it should not be hard to diagnose overt cases. There is, as always the grey cases, those that you're not absolutely certain about or don't tick all of the boxes. And that's when a specialist can be prepared to even just try some thyroxin to see if it helps. Certainly, specialists are needed to diagnose those individuals who don't convert the thyroxin to the T3, and who need additional T3.

That's a more controversial area but undoubtedly in my experience, very, very much does exist. And that needs specialist input.

Is it helpful for a major celebrity to come forward and talk about a condition like this?

I think it can be helpful for any celebrity to talk about their conditions, if it raises public awareness of the condition and the treatments to restore it.

So the more debate and discussion, and knowledge generally is a good thing, as long as it's responsible knowledge, and people are given the true facts about their condition.

I'm very happy for him to raise awareness of it and to discuss it.

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