Symptoms of Thyroid in Senior Citizens

Generally, older adults over age 60 might suffer from hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism. The challenge arises as symptoms usually manifest in subtle ways in older patients and are difficult to diagnose. Hence we are discussing thyroid symptoms in senior citizens to avoid having medical complications due to thyroid.

The function of Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of your neck. It releases hormones that control the way your body uses energy. The thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods you eat to make two main hormones called T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).

Most importantly, these hormones regulate your heart rate and how fast your intestines process food. Therefore if T3 and T4 levels are low, your heart rate may be slower than normal. More importantly, you may have constipation resulting in weight gain. Accordingly, if T3 and T4 levels are high, you may have a rapid heart rate and diarrhea, resulting in weight loss.

Diseases caused by the Thyroid gland

The function of the thyroid gland is to regulate the body’s metabolism. Hence when the thyroid gland malfunctions due to aging, it can lead to disorders associated with the thyroid. Most importantly, the symptoms can develop at any age. In particular due to hereditary deficiencies in diet, injuries, or other health issues.

It especially becomes difficult to detect in older adults as usually, these conditions may overlap with age-related issues. Most of the time, the thyroid in senior citizens can get confusing as the symptoms are similar to bowel disease, heart disorders, or issues with nerves. It is important to realize that elders usually suffer from Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism.

Effects of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid is a diagnosis that older adults should not miss.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include weight loss, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, always hungry, unsteady hands. Excessive sweating, menstrual changes in older women, hot flushes, inconsistent bowel patterns, and swollen thyroid glands. It creates tiredness, weakness, and irregular sleeping patterns in older adults.

Effects of Hypothyroidism

Elderly adults most commonly suffer from Hypothyroidism. It is very difficult to diagnose in elders as the symptoms can be easily confused with age-related issues. Older adults suffering from this disease usually have one or two symptoms at the most. Hence, these symptoms depend on how low the T3 and T4 levels are.

Few symptoms are fatigue, inactivity, always feeling cold, constipation, pale and dry skin, high cholesterol levels, brittle hair, and nails. It may cause sudden weight gain, sore muscles, menstrual changes in older women, and depression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Routine physical check-ups can easily diagnose thyroid disorders by your physician based on your medical history. Your physician may prescribe blood tests to check if T3 and T4 levels are high or low. Based on the tests, your physician will prescribe the right treatment.

Early diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders are crucial. Hence unchecked, these disorders can lead to increased morbidity and mortality in the elderly. It usually arises from coexistent diseases such as diminished cardiovascular reserve.

Most importantly, treatment of subclinical thyroid disease should also be considered, based on a combination of age, symptoms, and risk factors in the individual patients.

In addition, both the prevalence and aggressiveness of thyroid cancer increase with age. This review importantly summarizes the changes in thyroid function, as well as the clinical symptoms and treatment of thyroid disorders with advancing age.

Treatment for older patients with thyroid disorders is usually gradual and careful treatment and, as always, requires lifelong follow-up.

Therefore early diagnosis and the right treatment can help reduce the effects. Undoubtedly, it ensures that older adults live active, healthy, happy lives.

How to observe Thyroid Awareness month

January is National Thyroid Awareness Month and let us do small things that can affect the life of your elderly loved ones.

  1. Encourage the caregivers and older adults in your life to get their thyroid levels test.
  2. Ensure that your loved ones suffering from thyroid are taking the medications on time.
  3. Enhance their health by giving the right food that promotes Thyroid well-being.

Getting the right help

Having an in-home caregiver can help seniors keep their thyroid under control, whether it’s medication reminders to help you remember when to take your thyroid medication or meal planning. An in-home care aide can provide valuable care.

Even having someone come in to do light housekeeping for a few hours per week can make sure you’ve got the energy to get some exercise. Caregivers can help out with various tasks that can undoubtedly help your elders stay healthy.

Find out more about how an in-home caregiver can help you or your elderly loved ones. And if you’ve got an elderly loved one for whom you want to become a paid caregiver, we can help arrange that as well. To reach us, dial 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more.


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