Understanding the Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders
It is estimated that over 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, yet more than half of them may not even be aware of their condition. January is Thyroid Awareness Month, a time to learn about the importance of thyroid health and the symptoms that may be related to thyroid disease.
What is a thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe (trachea). Your thyroid is an important gland that makes hormones to help control many vital functions of your body. The gland creates two hormones that can influence metabolism, heart rate and body temperature.
What is a thyroid disorder?
A thyroid disorder may occur when your thyroid stops working the way it’s meant to. This can impact your entire body. If your thyroid is overproducing hormones, you can develop a condition called hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, if your thyroid is underproducing hormones you can develop a condition called hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) are not limited to but can include:
Unintentional weight loss
Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat
Infrequent and light menstrual periods
Muscle weakness and tremors
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) are not limited to but can include:
Frequent and heavy menstrual periods
Who can be affected by a thyroid disorder?
In short, anyone. Although it is possible for anyone to be affected by a thyroid disorder at any age, it is most common in women. According to Thyroid.org, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. This is especially true for women over 60 years old. It can be difficult to identify the symptoms of thyroid disorders, especially in Seniors. The frequency of multiple symptoms decreases in older patients. Many symptoms of thyroid disorders may also be attributed to signs of aging, such as forgetfulness and fatigue.
The thyroid is a small gland, with strong importance that can sometimes be overlooked. It is important that Caregivers and loved ones are aware of the symptoms that can come with thyroid disorders, as it is often under-diagnosed in seniors. Be sure to visit your doctor for regular health exams and especially if you’re noticing a sudden change in your body.
For more information about thyroid health, visit these resources:
Senior Helpers believes that a diagnosis should not mean the end of your loved one’s independence and freedom. We work with families throughout our community to help create and implement a comprehensive at-home plan for managing a variety of chronic diseases and conditions. Depending on your loved one’s needs, we can provide assistance with daily living activities, exercise routines, medication management, meal preparation, and much more. Find your local Senior Helpers today.