The thyroid, more specifically the thyroid gland, is part of the endocrine system. The gland is responsible for producing two hormones, the thyroxine (T4) and the triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid sits just below the voice box and is made up of a right lobe and a left lobe. The thyroid is involved in the metabolism processes of the cells. Disorders of the thyroid can result in too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little production (hypothyroidism) of hormones.
In the elderly, thyroid disease can be confused with other conditions given the symptoms that are present and the physical changes a person may experience. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, heat intolerance, anxiety, and gritty eyes. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness, feeling cold, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, and depression. With aging, individuals may only experience one or two symptoms.
Daily medications are often prescribed for the treatment of thyroid disease either supporting hormone production or inhibiting hormones. Consistency with a prescribed medication regimen is critical to effectively managing thyroid disease. Home health services are available to support understanding thyroid disease in the elderly, creating effective medication management regimens, and supporting healthy lifestyle choices around weight changes and energy levels for self-care.
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