The thyroid is a small gland that is situated at the bottom of the front of your neck. As an important gland, issues with the thyroid can cause major health issues.
As we age, we become more at risk for medical conditions related to the thyroid. Seniors are especially susceptible to thyroid issues and should be made aware of what to do if they do begin suffering from symptoms. To visualize it, it is butterfly-shaped and is located at the base of your Adam’s apple.
The thyroid controls how your body’s cells process the energy you gain from the nutrients you get from food. Since it navigates the body’s ability to burn calories, it also affects all body processes that rely on nutrition such as heartbeat and temperature. There are two main conditions relating to your thyroid: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid is underperforming and due to its disfunction, it lowers your body’s metabolic rate due to producing too little thyroid hormone.
This is more common to be found in seniors, however, it can also be more difficult to recognize the symptoms due to their minimal presentation of symptoms. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, unexplained weight gain, pain, body stiffness, muscle weakness, constipation, temperature sensitivity, brittle nails, puffy face, and high cholesterol levels.
The risk factors that can lead to developing hypothyroidism are being over 50, being a woman, iodine deficiency, family history of autoimmune conditions, and previous treatments on your thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism is a medical condition in which the thyroid is overperforming and due to its over-function, it produces too much thyroid hormone. It can be difficult to diagnose because there are often symptoms already commonly found in older people.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are similar to hypothyroidism and can include sudden weight loss, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, sensitivity to temperature, irregular heartbeat, and anxiety.
The risk factors that can lead to hyperthyroidism include a family history of hyperthyroidism, having nodules of thyroid glands, and a previous diagnosis of Graves’ Disease or Plummer’s Disease.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Conditions
If you relate to any of the previous symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, you can visit your doctor and take a blood test. The blood test is to measure your thyroid-stimulating hormone and if you are over 50, it is important to test that with your regular blood work.
If you have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, medications are the primary source of treatment. It will help balance and restore the appropriate thyroid hormone levels in your body.
Thyroid conditions may not be preventable, but they are treatable and with the correct dosage, you can balance your thyroid hormone levels and minimize any symptoms. Ensure you are making an appointment with your doctor if you find you suffer from any of the symptoms associated with thyroid conditions.
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