Community Blog

What Caregivers and Seniors Need to Know About Thyroid Conditions

By Michelle Brown

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. Most people know that they have their thyroid, but do they know the importance of this organ? The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ in the front of the neck. The thyroid produces hormones that regulate body functions. It controls almost every cell in the body. When the thyroid over or underworks, it causes health concerns especially for seniors.

Thyroid Diseases

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid overproduces the hormone T4. This disorder is more common in women than men, because it is often associated with hormonal changes after pregnancy or during menopause. With hyperthyroidism, you may experience these symptoms:

  •       Irritability
  •       Anxiousness
  •       Difficulty sleeping
  •       Weight loss

Hypothyroidism is slowing down of the thyroid. The body doesn’t produce hormones that regulate the body systems. This can cause a person to experience the following symptoms:

  •       Fatigue
  •       Lethargy
  •       Drowsiness
  •       Weight gain
  •       Goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland

When to Contact Your Doctor

It’s estimated that around 20 million Americans suffer from a disease of the thyroid gland. About half of those people go undiagnosed. The key times when thyroid issues peak are during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Thyroid conditions can go undiagnosed because the symptoms mimic other conditions.

A blood test can detect thyroid hormone levels. The thyroid also regulates metabolism therefore someone may realize something is wrong due to weight gain or loss. When a person has many unexplainable symptoms or experiences a significant change in energy, they should consult a doctor to order thyroid tests to rule out any other causes.

Take Care of the Thyroid

Iodine fuels the thyroid gland. It doesn’t take a lot of iodine to keep the thyroid working effectively, just 150 mcg per day, but it does take a steady supply. Iodine sources include tuna, eggs, iodized salt, and cheese. Currently, there are no tests to determine whether a person is getting enough iodine in their diet. Eating common foods with iodine is usually sufficient to maintain healthy iodine levels.

Taking care of your body also helps your thyroid. Eating healthy and taking care of your body with plenty of fiber, probiotics, and antioxidants helps the thyroid work effectively. Stress can negatively affect the thyroid. Manage stress in a healthy way to maintain thyroid health.

Many thyroid conditions are genetic. Fortunately, thyroid diseases are treatable to manage the symptoms and keep the thyroid functioning properly. Many thyroid patients live a good quality life even with a thyroid disease. Let Home Helpers of Drexel Hill help you find a caregiver to take care of someone in your life.  Contact us today for more information.