There are approximately 30 million Americans affected by thyroid disease today. If you think you or a loved one may have this condition, you should learn about diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments.
The thyroid is a gland in the neck which controls your metabolism and the natural process of creating new proteins. It’s responsible for your skin integrity, menstrual cycles, calcium levels, your nervous system, heart, and cholesterol levels. It also controls brain development, your body temperature, respiration, metabolism, and fat production. The thyroid hormones keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly.
Types of Thyroid Disease
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid works more than it should. It is most common in patients under the age of 50. It is marked by an enlarged thyroid gland, insomnia, a rapid heart rate, weight loss, increased appetite, and diarrhea. Symptoms you may experience include increased sweating, anxiety, oversensitivity to heat, dry thin skin, hair loss, trembling, fatigue, nervousness, and dry eyes.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid is working slower than it should. This type of thyroid disease is difficult to detect due to symptoms often being unspecific. Symptoms for Hypothyroidism include fatigue, lethargic, sensitivity to cold or heat, weight gain, inability to lose the weight, constipation, depression, anxiety, slow movement in speech and thoughts, itchy dry skin, scalp sores, brittle hair and nails, muscle aches, weakness and numbness of limbs.
Hashimoto’s Disease, which is also known as Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis. This is the most common type of thyroid disease in the United States, affecting about 14 million Americans. The disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and slowly destroys the thyroid gland by reducing its ability to produce hormones. Symptoms for Hashimoto’s Disease are fatigue, depression, constipation, mild weight gain, dry skin, dry and thinning of hair, pale puffy face, heavy and irregular menstruation, intolerance of cold, enlarged thyroid or goiter.
Thyroid Disease Diagnosis
The only way to know for sure if you have any type of thyroid disease is to have your physician perform a thyroid stimulating blood test that measures your thyroid hormone levels. This test will measure whether the gland is working properly. It is highly recommended to get tested if you are a senior over 60, have family with a history of thyroid disease, or believe you are suffering from any of the symptoms. Diagnosing seniors can be difficult due to memory issues, constipation and weight gain symptoms as being part of the aging process.
Causes & Treatment of Thyroid Diseases
There are several common causes that can be attributed to autoimmune disease, certain medications, thyroid surgery, or radiation therapy. Anyone can develop thyroid problems. Both hypo and hyperthyroidism can be treated with medicine or other approaches that can greatly improve your quality of life. Luckily, thyroid prescriptions can usually get your symptoms under control. However, it is important that family members and caregivers of senior loved ones keep abreast of new symptoms that may occur. Medications can often need to be changed or dosages increased or decreased.
Helping Seniors with Thyroid Disease
Caregivers should know the symptoms of thyroid disease. It is more common than diabetes or heart disease. It often goes underdiagnosed in seniors. The caregiver should carefully monitor and discuss thyroid symptoms and aging complaints with the elderly in their care. Professional caregivers are usually trained to take care of the medical concerns of their patients. If you are responsible for a senior that is taking thyroid medication, you need to see that the medication is taken at the same exact time every day.
If you have more questions regarding Thyroid Disease, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Pierre-Pierre at Hobe Sound Primary Care today.