FORMER Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing had to spend part of Christmas in hospital after being diagnosed with Addison's disease.
The 34-year-old, who now works as a coach for the Merseyside club, was told to "urgently" attend hospital to avoid his body shutting down.
This came after he had blood tests conducted on December 24.
After further investigating, doctors worked out it was Addison's disease – an uncommon illness which is the result of someone's body failing to produce enough of certain hormones.
It can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, low mood, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.
Addison's disease is most common between the ages of 30 and 50, with women more susceptible to the adrenal insufficiency.
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It can be a life-threatening condition, but is often not discovered until weeks and months after the first symptoms.
Speaking on Instagram, Spearing said: "My first Christmas off in 17 years was a little different than I expected.
"After blood tests with the club on Christmas Eve I was told I needed to attend hospital urgently before my body started shutting down. I was potentially hours/days away from going into something called adrenal crisis.
"After more observations and tests were carried out, they diagnosed me with Addison’s disease.
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"It’s taken me a minute to get my head around it but I am thankful that now it’s been diagnosed it can be controlled and managed through hormone replacement treatment and it’s not something that I will allow to affect or dictate my life.
"Thinking back, I have been ignoring symptoms and changes in my body for over a year without it being checked. If I didn’t get this checked when I did things could have turned out very differently.
"Moral of the story, don’t ignore changes in your body, no matter how small. Get them checked out!"
Spearing came through Liverpool's youth set-up and made his first-team debut in 2008.
He left in 2013 and went on to play for Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool and Tranmere.
Then in June he returned to Liverpool as an U18 coach and an over-aged player for the U21s.
In September, he featured for the U21s in their EFL Trophy clash against Rochdale.
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