The parents of a Nottingham teenager have spoken out in an effort to raise awareness about a chronic disease that turned their son into a shadow of his former self.
Nineteen-year-old Reece Minto was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in September 2017 after suddenly becoming increasingly ill in 2016.
The disease, which is common yet rarely heard of, is an autoimmune disease where antibodies stimulate the thyroid cells to secrete excess thyroid hormone, causing different illnesses depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency.
Reece’s parents, Sharon Hill and Henry Minto began to notice a drastic change in their son’s physical and mental state after he had lost over two stone in weight over the course of six months.
His dad said: “I’d say about six months ago, he was weightlifting, a very bubbly lad, strong, I noticed he’d stop eating, he wasn’t eating as much as he used to, he wasn’t as bubbly as he used to be.
“He became more or less withdrawn into himself, hidden away half the time into his bedroom and we used to wonder why he doesn’t socialise, he just doesn’t socialise anymore.”
As a result of losing an increasing amount of weight, Reece’s eyes started to bulge out of his face becoming strikingly noticeable and his eye sockets and cheek bones became more apparent.
They said he constantly felt exhausted as if he had fibromyalgia and struggled to carry out usual day-to-day activities such as weightlifting at the gym and going to work as a healthcare assistant.
This not only affected his social life, but also led him to become depressed causing his illness to tragically turn into a downwards spiral.
After numerous trips to the hospital and several blood tests later, doctors diagnosed him with hypothyroidism along with Graves’ disease, a condition which would still be seriously affecting his health and family life six months later.
His mum said: “The Graves’ disease attacks virtually everything, there’s a long list of hidden diseases within that diagnosis.
“It’s hard to explain really when you see a young nineteen-year-old lad become withdrawn and not be the same person he used to be.”
Graves’ disease is one of the main causes of an overactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism and not only causes illness through the problem of antibodies but also affects other organs and tissues through different parts of the body.
Reece’s parents said their son was still having regular hospital visits and on medication but hope his condition will improve.