Everyone knows what the thyroid is… right? Well, we’ve all at least heard of the thyroid. We know it’s an organ inside our body and that it has a purpose. Unless you’ve had an issue with your thyroid, however, you may not realize how important your thyroid actually is to your health. The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that's responsible for making sure your body uses energy at the proper rate by secreting a hormone that helps regulate metabolism.
As we age, some of the organs in our bodies may slow down or stop working quite as well as they should. When the thyroid gland slows down, it stops producing and releasing enough thyroid hormone into the body. An underactive thyroid gland, a condition known as hypothyroidism, can have a negative impact on many different bodily functions. Hypothyroidism happens to younger adults, but it is diagnosed more often in the older population. Both men and women can develop thyroid disease, but women are more prone to the condition than men.
Unfortunately, it is not at all unusual for those of us in our seasoned years to overlook the symptoms of hypothyroidism. That's because the disorder tends to come on quite slowly, and some of its symptoms are similar to the typical signs of aging and/or symptoms associated with other conditions common in later years.
As you age, it is very important to pay close attention to your body and look for symptoms that could be warning signs of a possible thyroid problem. It is also important to be regularly screened for hypothyroidism. Screening is imperative because it is possible to have an underactive thyroid without showing any symptoms at all.
The most common way to diagnose hypothyroidism is through a simple blood test that measures hormone levels and thyroid function. Treating the condition is also simple. Typically, the condition is treated with a medication taken in pill form that is easily tolerated by most people. For those of us in our seasoned years, treatment tends to begin with a low dose of the medication that is increased as symptoms are monitored. Starting with a dosage that's too high can be dangerous, because it can put too much strain on an older heart.
If you are prescribed thyroid medication, it is absolutely essential to take the pill as directed by your doctor. It's also important to understand that you will probably be on the medication for the rest of your life. Fortunately, the drug begins working very quickly. In fact, most people feel a difference within a week or so and their symptoms are gone within a few months.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can be different for different people. Speak with your doctor about hypothyroidism and any symptoms you may experience.