When people reach old age, there are usually many changes in their body. Some of these changes are mild, but others may be annoying. One of the problems in old age is thyroid disease that affects the metabolism of the body.
As you grow older, your chances of developing thyroid disease increase. The point is that disease-free aging should not be accompanied by symptoms of fatigue, forgetfulness or insomnia.
Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism, both cause thyroid disorders. Timely diagnosis and proper treatment prevent progression and worsening of the disease.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism in the Elderly
In the elderly, Hypothyroidism is more common. Because it occurs over many years, it is difficult to identify. As you age, the number of symptoms is reduced. In the elderly, there may be only one or two symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism vary depending on how much low thyroid hormone levels are. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- dry skin
- Puffy face
- High cholesterol levels
- Fragile hair and nails
- Unknown weight gain
- Muscular pain
- Stiffness or swelling and joint pain
Older women over 50 are more likely to develop the disease. This problem is more common in older people with iodine deficiency. People who have previously used hypothyroidism medications or have been treated with radioactive iodine are also more likely to develop the problem.
Overactive thyroid can be a risk factor for heart disease and high cholesterol. In all old patients with hypothyroidism, cholesterol levels are very important. Conversely, older patients with high cholesterol levels should have a thyroid assessment.
Hypothyroidism treatment involves drugs containing synthetic hormones that balance the normal levels of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. After a proper dose of these drugs, recovery should take several weeks.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in the Elderly
Also for Hyperthyroidism, the elderly may see only one or two signs of the disease. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include:
- Sudden weight loss
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Increased appetite
- Shake hands or fingers
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep problems
- Anxiety or irritability
- Enlarged thyroid gland
Older people with a history of Graves or Plummer’s disease, or with swelling and pain in the thyroid gland, are more likely to develop the disease. Also people with a family member with hypothyroidism are more likely to be affected.
Hyperthyroidism is one of the causes of osteoporosis and bone weakness in the elderly.
Hyperthyroidism can be cured using radioactive iodine or other drugs that slow down hormone production.
Removing a part of the thyroid gland is another treatment but is not recommended in elderly patients.
Because seniors experience different changes and illnesses than younger people, thyroid disease is more difficult to diagnose than younger generations.
It is advisable to see a physician to see the above mentioned symptoms in the elderly for evaluation. Their tests include a simple blood test to check for TSH and T4 and T3 levels. Once diagnosed, it is easy to treat and manage.