Hypothyroidism is the term doctors use to describe a thyroid gland that doesn’t work as efficiently as it should. It is underactive and doesn’t make enough hormones. When an older adult has hypothyroidism, they can experience a range of symptoms, depending on how severe the condition is. Being able to recognize the symptoms of hypothyroidism can help caregivers to know when it is time for their aging relative to see a doctor.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
The thyroid is a small gland that is located in the neck. It is often described as being shaped like a butterfly. Though small, the thyroid has a big job. When it doesn’t work correctly, the chemical balance of the body is thrown off. Hormones produced by the thyroid play a role in all sorts of important functions, including body temperature and heart rate.
Hypothyroidism can be caused by many different things. Some of the causes of hypothyroidism are:
Autoimmune Disease: Most cases of hypothyroidism are caused by an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The disorder occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the thyroid. Doctors aren’t sure what causes some people to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but they think it could be a combination of genes and environmental factors.
Response to Hyperthyroidism Treatment: When the thyroid gland is overactive, it is called hyperthyroidism. Some people overreact to the treatments for hyperthyroidism, causing hypothyroidism.
Radiation Therapy: People who have had radiation therapy on their head or neck can sometimes develop hypothyroidism.
Medications: Certain medications, like lithium, can affect the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
When hypothyroidism first begins, the signs can be very subtle, even unnoticeable. Eventually, though, symptoms will worsen. Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:
- Gaining weight
- Muscle weakness
- Thinning hair
- Painful, stiff, or swollen joints
- High cholesterol
- Slower heart rate
- Memory problems
- Muscle pain, stiffness, or tenderness
- Dry skin
If your aging relative is complaining of feeling more tired than usual or exhibits other symptoms of hypothyroidism, they should see a doctor. The condition is treated using hormone therapy. Changes in medication are sometimes necessary to determine the proper dosage, so follow-up visits are necessary.
When an older adult is diagnosed with hypothyroidism, senior care can help them to manage the condition. A senior care provider can be with them to assist with tasks that might be difficult because of fatigue or pain. Senior care providers can also remind the older adult to take their medications at the proper times. And, if your older family member is unable to drive, the senior care provider can drive them to their follow-up appointments.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Senior Care in Sacramento, CA, talk to the caring staff at Partners in Care today. Serving El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Placer, Butte, Glenn, Yolo, & Colusa Counties! Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! (530) 268-7423