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Understanding Seniors and Thyroid Disease

28 January 2022

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If you weren’t already aware, January is known as Thyroid Awareness Month. This time is meant to call attention to the thyroid gland and the many health problems people around the world may face with it. Thyroid problems often impact seniors and make it harder for them to live their best lives. 


Millions of Americans are diagnosed with thyroid disease and a large portion of them are seniors or older patients. Unfortunately, a majority of these individuals are undiagnosed and unaware of their disease. 


The thyroid is a small gland that can be found at the base of the neck. It makes hormones that go into the bloodstream and tissues of our bodies, helping to regulate body temperature, metabolism, and other important bodily functions.

Types of Thyroid Disease

As time goes on, hyperthyroidism brings harm to an aging person’s body and leaves them feeling fatigued. Their symptoms may show up via heart palpitations or discomfort in the chest when climbing up a set of stairs. 


The second kind of thyroid disease is called hypothyroidism, and it is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism happens when the thyroid works too slowly and is common in people over the age of sixty. 


The symptoms of this second type of thyroid disease can be quite generic, especially among older people. In fact, seniors may only experience symptoms such as loss of memory or a diminishment in cognitive function. These can be hard to attribute specifically to a thyroid issue. In fact, up to 25% of patients in nursing homes may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

Getting Diagnosed & Treated

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To figure out whether or not someone has thyroid problems, it is important to take a blood test to measure their thyroid hormone levels. For seniors over sixty years of age, it is recommended to take a test that stimulates their hormone levels to assess how well their thyroid gland is working. 


Seniors can expect a variety of treatment options when looking to resolve issues with their thyroid. Depending on the exact condition, their doctors may recommend medication, surgery, hormones, or therapy.

Age and Thyroid Problems

Although thyroid problems can affect people of all ages, some conditions such as hypothyroidism can be much more prevalent in seniors than younger adults. It can also be more difficult to identify thyroid issues among older patients. 


However, one good clue is whether or not the senior at hand has a family history of thyroid disease. This could be a sibling or even a child.  Care providers have to pay close attention to seniors with thyroid disorders and ensure that they are offering precise and accurate treatment options that won’t upset overall well-being.


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In conclusion, thyroid problems highly impact older adults and can often go undiagnosed or undetected. Symptoms tend to be less obvious among seniors and also differ from those found in younger adults. For these reasons, it’s important that seniors and their caregivers have a good understanding of thyroid disease. A thorough understanding can help identify health problems and connect issues potentially related to a malfunctioning thyroid gland. 


Fortunately, many problems with the thyroid gland can be treated successfully. Seniors should be given slow gradual treatment options and always receive consistent follow-up sessions to ensure their health is not being neglected.

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