The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that regulates hormones and is a vital part of several body functions, such as energy consumption and protein production.
When the thyroid stops functioning normally, it can impact several areas of health and cause a range of symptoms that are mild to severe. In some cases, an over-functioning thyroid can cause death.
Thyroid imbalances are increasingly common in seniors and a frequent reason behind a diminished quality of life. However, despite being common, this condition can be difficult to diagnose since many of the symptoms of abnormal thyroid function mimic common signs of aging.
Here are three ways that a thyroid problem can present in seniors.
1. Tiredness and loss of vitality
If the zest has gone out of your life and you find it hard to summon energy for daily tasks, a low-functioning thyroid may be at fault. The thyroid regulates mood and energy, so an under-performing one can cause fatigue and a sense of sluggishness.
2. Changes in appetite
Skipping meals because you’ve lost interest in food is a common sign of a lagging metabolism and can snowball into other health issues such as fatigue. If you are suffering from a low appetite, try eating smaller, highly nutritious meals throughout the day to get your metabolism going.
3. Unexplained Weight Gain
If your diet and lifestyle haven’t changed but your weight has inexplicably gone up, it could be another sign of a slowed metabolism caused by an under-functioning thyroid. It’s important to get this checked out by a doctor since maintaining an appropriate weight is crucial for overall health, especially in seniors.
Treating a thyroid imbalance
Diet changes can help regulate thyroid function. If you consume a large amount of soy products, for example, modifying your diet to reduce soy may be beneficial. In most cases, seniors are recommended to work with their doctor and assisted living care providers to have your thyroid levels checked.
Correcting a thyroid imbalance can take a little patience and effort, since it can be challenging to diagnose and treat. The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to be able to enjoy your golden years to the fullest, so it’s well worth the effort to get the necessary tests and follow the treatments that will keep you healthy and energized.