Common Symptoms of Overactive Thyroid
Overactive thyroid can affect anyone at any time, but particular attention needs to be paid to female patients over the age of 60 because they do not present classically with thyroid problems.
Overactive thyroid occurs when your thyroid gland’s hormone production deregulates itself. As a result too much T3 and T4 hormone is released. Specialists expect to see an unexplained drop in weight, an increase in appetite, and a loss of sex drive; among other symptoms. The trouble is in patients over 60, the problem presents with a lot of secondary symptoms that are not typically associated with the condition.
Early Bird Special: The Signs & Symptoms of Overactive Thyroid at 60+
Thyroid problems among the elderly are often misdiagnosed as depression or dementia because older patients do not always display the tell-tale signs of overactive thyroid.
Yes, heart palpitations still occur, but they are accompanied by:
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Persistent tachycardia
- Shortness of breath while exercising
- Weight loss
These different physical symptoms are often the opposite of younger female patients as well.
Rather than experiencing an increase in appetite; elderly patients will typically have a decreased appetite. Additionally, they tend to become socially withdrawn and exhibit very low energy. This being the antithesis of overactive thyroid, when combined with their age, is what leaves many in the medical community leaning toward a different diagnosis all together.
Pushing for the Expert Opinion
It takes a very experienced endocrinologist to spot overactive thyroid symptoms in an elderly patient, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Unfortunately, there’s an established treatment pattern within the medical community to chalk a lot of elderly medical complaints up to little more than age. This not only does older patients a disservice; it can lead to a misdiagnosis and ineffective or harmful treatment protocols. To avoid this outcome, doctors need to really listen to patients and their loved ones and perhaps look in places they normally wouldn’t, like the thyroid gland.
Since these patients are well passed the expected childbearing and post-menopausal age, the hormonal symptoms that trigger classic chain reactions in the body most likely won’t be present; making the diagnosis harder to catch. Watch for signs of pronounced weakness and a significant loss or lack of energy. If you see these signs in an elderly loved one, enlist emergency care. Their hormone levels are dangerously low.
If at first you are not listened to, push for a specialist who will act on what you’re feeling. If an elderly individual is no longer able to advocate for themselves, step up as a loved one and become medical power of attorney. Advocate where and when they cannot to see that they get proper medical attention.