Tags: Thyroid Disorders | thyroid | disease | seniors | elderly

Thyroid Disease and Seniors: What You Should Know

By    |   Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016 05:59 PM

Thyroid disease in seniors can be a diagnostic challenge because it is often a great “masquerader” with symptoms that are easy to miss, according to an article in the Southern Medical Journal.

The symptoms of both hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) aren’t always the same as the classic symptoms in younger age groups, and they can often mimic cardiac and other symptoms that are typical for other disease that affect the elderly, the journal said.

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Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are different in older patients than in younger patients Dr. Leslie M.C. Goldenberg, a geriatric internist and Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, explains for the Thyroid Foundation of Canada.

For younger patients, these two conditions result in symptoms that are very different from each other, but in seniors, they can sometimes appear exactly the same in terms of symptoms, she says. Also, the symptoms particularly of hyperthyroidism may not be as pronounced in seniors as they are in younger patients.

These challenges among others make proper diagnosis extremely difficult but crucial for the health of the patient.

Hypothyroidism is much more common in patients over the age of 60, according to the American Thyroid Association. The risk continues to increase as people age. As with hyperthyroidism, the symptoms may be less pronounced or may not appear in multiples as with younger patients. The memory and cognitive difficulties associated with hypothyroidism for young patients may be dismissed as being typical of normal aging.

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The American Thyroid Association estimates that as many as one in every four nursing home patients has undiagnosed hypothyroidism.

In order to diagnose the condition, physicians usually need a high degree of suspicion that underactive thyroid exists. The decision to treat hypothyroidism may depend on the results of the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) test, but it might be appropriate to repeat the test in a few months to confirm the results.

As for treatment, the American Thyroid Association explains that any actions to correct a thyroid imbalance are usually more gradual than in younger patients so that excess stress isn’t put on the heart and nervous system.

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Thyroid disease in seniors can be a diagnostic challenge because it is often a great "masquerader" with symptoms that are easy to miss, according to an article in the Southern Medical Journal.
thyroid, disease, seniors, elderly
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2016-59-12
Tuesday, 12 Apr 2016 05:59 PM
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