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A Short Guide to Thyroid Disease for Seniors in Victoria, BC

Uncategorized  |  October 19, 2020

There are so many good aspects of living independently throughout the golden years. However, aging also brings certain challenges and many of us often become more susceptible to developing health conditions than when we were younger.

Seniors are particularly prone to developing complications with the thyroid gland, which can lead to some form of thyroid disease when left undetected.

The two most common thyroid conditions are:

Hypothyroidism – Which is caused by the lack of thyroid hormones in the system and results in a low metabolic rate.

Hyperthyroidism – Occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces hormones, which leads to increased metabolism.

The first one, hypothyroidism, is more prevalent in the elderly. It is, however, rather difficult to recognize as the symptoms appear slowly, over the course of many years. Moreover, seniors afflicted by this condition may only have one or two symptoms because the frequency of symptoms decreases with age.

Depending on how low thyroid hormone levels in the organism have become, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can include sluggishness and fatigue, constipation, amplified sensitivity to coldness, dry skin and pale complexion, high cholesterol, brittle nails and hair, sudden weight gain, stiffness and muscle aches, joint swelling, as well as depression.

There are several risk factors for developing hypothyroidism:

  • Being female over 50
  • Having a member of the immediate family diagnosed with autoimmune disease
  • Recently receiving radiation treatment in the upper torso
  • Previously undergoing thyroid gland surgery
  • Developing iodine deficiency

The second one, hyperthyroidism, is also challenging to diagnose, especially because certain symptoms can be signs of other health issues too. Similar to hypothyroidism, seniors with hyperthyroidism may express only one or two symptoms of this disease, including unexplained weight loss, increased appetite, irregular or rapid heartbeat rate, anxiety, increased sensitivity to heat, tremors in the hands, fatigue, muscle weakness, menstrual and/or bowel changes, an enlarged thyroid gland, and difficulty sleeping.

With this in mind, the risk factors for developing hyperthyroidism can be linked to:

  • Having a history of this disease in the family
  • Being diagnosed with Graves of Plummer’s disease
  • Experiencing swelling or pain in the thyroid gland, otherwise known as thyroiditis
  • Developing toxic adenoma or nodules on the thyroid gland

Nonetheless, when diagnosed and properly treated, thyroid disease can be managed adequately, helping ensure the best quality of life for seniors affected by the condition.

Comfort Keepers Can Help

If your parent or relative has already been diagnosed with thyroid disease, Comfort Keepers of Vancouver can provide valuable assistance. Our dedicated caregivers are trained to support physician-recommended regimens and provide healthy meal planning and preparation, medication reminders, help with various activities of daily living, and much more. Our mission is to ensure your loved one’s happiness and wellbeing, no matter their age or acuity.

Get in touch with our Vancouver office today at 604-200-7893 to learn more about how we can help.

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