Thyroid and Aging

Closeup cropped image, doctor performing physical exam, palpation of lymph nodes. Young male physician and elderly sick patient, isolated white background. Patient visit, appointment, care concept

The thyroid is an important organ in your neck responsible for maintenance of your metabolism, heart, bones, muscles, and other organs.

Thyroid issues become more common as we age. Women are at an even increased risk – 20% of women over the age of 60 have issues with their thyroid.

Because growing older can mean many physical changes, thyroid problems often go undiagnosed in the elderly as compared to younger people – so it’s important to know what to look out for.

Some common Thyroid problems include:

• Hypothyroidism – This occurs when your thyroid is underactive. This can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions.
• Hyperthyroidism – This occurs when the thyroid is overactive.
• Goiter – Enlargement of the thyroid
• Thyroid Nodules – Lumps in the thyroid tissue

The majority of people are diagnosed with some form of hypothyroidism, where the thyroid does not produce enough hormones and metabolism slows as a result. Some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

• Fatigue/tiredness
• Easily gets cold
• Weight gain
• Slowly thinking and moving
• Muscle cramps, aches, and weakness

If you have any of the symptoms, it might be worth going into the doctor for a thyroid evaluation. An underactive thyroid is linked to other health problems, including high cholesterol, heart problems, and depression. It’s important to get thyroid problems early, before such complications arise.

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, don’t panic – hypothyroidism is a manageable illness. With the right course of treatment and lifestyle, you can manage your symptoms. Some lifestyle tips for those with hypothyroidism include:

• Diet: Eating a balanced diet can help maintain your weight and help your body run at its best. Think fruits and veggies, whole grains, unsaturated fats, and lean proteins.

• Exercise: Low impact cardio and weight training is a good place to start. Though you shouldn’t over exert yourself, you should feel as if you were challenged. Talk to your doctor about how to best approach an exercise regime.

• Sleep: Make sure you’re sleeping enough, and have a regular schedule. This will help you feel less tired and help your body run its best.
Though there’s no cure for hypothyroidism, there are ways you can lower your risk for complications. With a good lifestyle and ongoing communication with your healthcare provider, you can gain control of your condition and lead a healthy life.