When a person has a thyroid that does not produce enough hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. At first, the disease might not cause any symptoms. However, if it is not treated, it can eventually lead to serious problems, like heart disease and joint pain. When symptoms of hypothyroidism do appear, it’s important that family caregivers be able to recognize them so that the older adult can get help before complications occur.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the neck, just under the Adam’s apple. It resembles a butterfly in shape. The hormones it produces are used in metabolism and for controlling heart rate and body temperature. Hypothyroidism can be caused by a number of different things, including:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: This autoimmune disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues by mistake. With Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the thyroid is affected. The cause of the autoimmune disease is not known.
- Treatment for Hyperthyroidism: Sometimes a person’s body overreacts to treatment for hyperthyroidism, the production of too much thyroid hormone, so that too little hormone is produced. That can cause permanent hypothyroidism.
- Radiation Therapy: Older adults who have had radiation therapy may experience hypothyroidism.
- Certain Medications: Some medications can cause the thyroid to produce too little hormone. To find out if your aging relative is taking something that may cause the problem, ask their doctor.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
What kinds of symptoms an older adult with hypothyroidism experiences depends on how severe the disease is. It’s common for people to think the symptoms they are experiencing are just natural parts of aging. However, the worse the condition gets, the more symptoms may appear and the worse they will be. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Gaining weight.
- Being more sensitive to cold.
- Dry skin.
- Hoarse voice.
- Weakened muscles.
- Puffiness in the face.
- Elevated or high cholesterol.
- Pain, tenderness, and stiffness in muscles and joints.
- Hair that is thinning.
- Slower heart rate.
- Poor memory.
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).
If your aging relative has hypothyroidism, a senior care provider can help them to better manage the condition. A senior care provider can remind them to take medications for the treatment of the disease. When the older adult is feeling sore or fatigued, a senior care provider can allow them to rest while they take care of tasks around the house, such as cooking and cleaning. Senior care providers can also help with easing symptoms, such as by applying moisturizer to arms and legs to help with dry skin.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HIRING SENIOR CARE IN LAKE SHORE EAST, IL, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT BRIGHTSTAR CARE CHICAGO. CALL TODAY: 312.382.8888.