- The thyroid is a gland in the neck in charge of your metabolism and creating new proteins.
- It is responsible for regulating skin integrity, menstrual cycles, calcium levels, and the nervous system, heart and cholesterol levels.
- In addition, it controls brain development, your body temperature, respiration, metabolism and fat production.
- Thyroid hormones also keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly.
Types Of Thyroid Disease
- Today, some 30 million Americans are affected by thyroid disease. If you think you or a loved one may have a thyroid condition, you should learn about diagnosis, symptoms and treatments.
- Hyperthyroidism is where your thyroid works more actively than it should.
- Hyperthyroidism is most common in patients under age 50, and is marked by an enlarged thyroid gland, insomnia, a rapid heart rate, weight loss, increased appetite and diarrhea.
- Increased sweating
- Oversensitivity to heat
- Weight loss
- Dry, thin skin, Hair loss
- Shakiness/trembling, Fatigue
- Nervousness, Dry or gritty eyes/double vision
- Hypothyroidism means that your thyroid is working slower than it should.
- Hypothyroidism is most common in patients over 60, and the incidence of this disease increases with age.
- Symptoms in the older patient are often unspecific; and since older adults can also suffer memory impairment, loss of appetite, it’s easy to see why hypothyroidism is so under-diagnosed.
- Sensitivity to cold/heat
- Weight gain and inability to lose weight
- Depression, Anxiety
- Slow movements, speech and thoughts
- Itchy and/or sore scalp
- Muscle aches, pains and weakness
- Dry and tight feeling skin
- Brittle hair and nails, Numbness in limbs
- Hashimoto’s disease is also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis. It’s the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, affecting about 14 million Americans.
- It can occur at any age, though it’s most common in middle-aged women.
- The disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and slowly destroys the thyroid gland and its ability to produce hormones.
- mild weight gain
- dry skin, dry, thinning hair
- pale, puffy face
- heavy and irregular menstruation
- intolerance to cold
- enlarged thyroid, or goiter
Thyroid Disease Diagnosis
- The only way to know for sure if you have thyroid disease of any type is to have a blood test that measures your thyroid hormone levels.
- Your physician will perform a thyroid-stimulating hormone test.
- This blood test measures whether the gland is working properly.
- It is highly recommended to get tested if you are a senior over 60, have family members diagnosed with the disease or believe you have symptoms.
- Diagnosing thyroid disease in seniors can be difficult because some of the symptoms are also associated with aging or other medical conditions.
- It is natural to assume symptoms such as memory issues, constipation or weight gain are part of the aging process.
- However, these can also be signs of thyroid disease.
Causes & Treatment Of Thyroid
- There are several causes, but some common causes can be attributed to autoimmune disease, certain types of medications, thyroid surgery or radiation therapy.
- Anyone can develop thyroid problems, but women who are 60 years of age or older seem to be more susceptible.
- Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can be treated with medicine or other approaches, which can greatly improve quality of life.
- Luckily, thyroid prescriptions can usually get symptoms under control. However, it’s important that family members and caregivers of senior loved ones keep abreast of new symptoms that may occur, because medications often times need to be changed, or dosages increased or decreased
Helping Seniors With Thyroid Disease
- Caregivers and loved ones should know the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease, as it is more common than diabetes or heart disease and often under-diagnosed in seniors.
- Caregivers should carefully monitor and discuss thyroid symptoms and aging complaints with seniors or elderly people in their charge.
- Professional caregivers are usually trained about the need to take care of these concerns.
- If you’re responsible for a senior that is taking thyroid medication, you need to see that the medication is taken the same exact time every day.