If you think you or your loved one may have an undiagnosed thyroid condition, you can start by doing a self-check of your (or your loved one’s) neck for lumps, which could be an indication of a thyroid condition.
How To Perform A Self-Check:
-Hold a hand mirror towards your neck, above the collarbones where you can see the area below your Adam’s apple.
-Tilt the head back, and take a sip of water.
-Swallow the water, and watch your neck for signs of bulging.
-Repeat the steps a few times to make sure you don’t see obvious signs of bulging.
-If you discover a bulge, nodule or an enlarged gland, contact your physician.
The only way to know for sure if you have thyroid disease of any type is to have a blood test that measures your thyroid hormone levels. To confirm whether there is a thyroid concern, your provider may perform a thyroid-stimulating hormone test. This blood test measures whether the gland is working properly. It is highly recommended to get tested if you are a senior over 60, have family members diagnosed with the disease or believe you have symptoms. Murray County Medical Center offers thyroid testing as part of its Direct Access Lab services.
Diagnosing thyroid disease in seniors can be difficult because some of the symptoms are also associated with aging or other medical conditions. It is natural to assume symptoms such as memory issues, constipation or weight gain are part of the aging process. However, these can also be signs of thyroid disease.
Causes & Treatment Of Thyroid Diseases
There are several causes, but some common causes can be attributed to autoimmune disease, certain types of medications, thyroid surgery or radiation therapy. Anyone can develop thyroid problems, but women who are 60 years of age or older seem to be more susceptible.
Hypo- and hyperthyroidism can be treated with medication, iodine, or hormones, and the other conditions can be addressed with therapy or surgery. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can be treated with medicine or other approaches, which can greatly improve quality of life.
Luckily, thyroid prescriptions can usually get symptoms under control. However, it’s important that family members and caregivers of senior loved ones keep abreast of new symptoms that may occur, because medications often times need to be changed, or dosages increased or decreased.
Helping Seniors with Thyroid Disease
Caregivers and loved ones should know the signs and symptoms of thyroid disease, as it is more common than diabetes or heart disease and often under-diagnosed in seniors.
Caregivers should carefully monitor and discuss thyroid symptoms and aging complaints with seniors or elderly people in their charge. Professional caregivers are usually trained about the need to take care these concerns. If you’re responsible for a senior that is taking thyroid medication, you need to see that the medication is taken the same exact time every day.