No, you’re never too old to be diagnosed with an underactive thyroid – hypothyroidism. This is especially true for more mature women. When a woman’s thyroid hormone level gets too low – she can become fatigued and depressed. In older women – constipation, dry skin, and weight gain are also experienced too often due to an underactive thyroid.
Underactive Thyroid in Older People
For people over 60, symptoms of hypothyroidism can be confused with the normal aging process. Any of the following health issues in a person over 60 could mean an underactive thyroid problem.
- Unexplained high cholesterol. High cholesterol is sometimes the only evidence of an under active thyroid in an older person. Because this may be the only symptom, a high cholesterol level warrants a thyroid evaluation.
- Heart failure. Low thyroid hormone levels reduce blood volume, weaker contractions of the heart muscle, and a slower heart rate. These conditions can contribute to heart failure – a when the heart doesn’t pump blood effectively to the muscles and organs of the body. Symptoms of heart failure include breathlessness, swelling in the ankles, weakness, and fatigue.
- Bowel movement changes. An older person with hypothyroidism might have constipation because of decreased movement of stool through the bowels. Less often, an older person will have frequent bouts of diarrhea, which is more typically a symptom of an overactive thyroid.
- Joint or muscle pain. Vague joint pain is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism. It sometimes is the only symptom of hypothyroidism in an older patient, although many experience an overall muscular aching, particularly in large muscle groups.
- Mental health concerns. Depression is common among older people with an underactive thyroid. Depression can be the only symptom in an older person. Delusions and hallucinations are also common in older people.
- Dementia. Debilitating memory loss can also occur as the only symptom of hypothyroidism. When an older person is being evaluated for dementia, thyroid tests should be included in the assessment.
- Problems with balance. Abnormalities in the cerebellum at the back of the brain due to an underactive thyroid may lead to balance and walking problems in older people.
Underactive Thyroid Treatment Expertise
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