The thyroid is located in the neck just below where the Adam’s apple is located. It’s a small glad that is part of the endocrine system, which is responsible for maintaining many of your parent’s body’s activities. It plays a huge part in metabolism, which when it’s not at healthy levels, can wreak havoc in many aspects of your parent’s health.
When the thyroid isn’t working properly, it can either produce too little hormones (called hypothyroidism) or it can produce too much hormone (called hyperthyroidism). Because the symptoms of either of these disorders are so wide ranging, many doctors overlook testing your parent for thyroid levels when she visits with a complaint of symptoms that she can’t find the causes of. As her caregiver, you can help her get tested by asking a doctor for a simple blood test, and especially if she has multiple symptoms without any other known causes.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
- A racing or pounding heart
- A feeling of restlessness and an inability to sleep or sleep well
- Shaking or trembling of the hands
- Muscle weakness
- A constant feeling of nervousness
- Anxiety without other triggers
- Thin skin and brittle hair and nails
- Increased sweating either with or without activity
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bulging eyes (a symptom usually only connected with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid)
If your parent has hyperthyroidism, her thyroid gland has become overactive and is producing too much of its hormone. It can come on without any notice and sometimes the symptoms take so long to manifest themselves fully, your parent may not even talk about many of them. As a caregiver, you’ll want to be on the lookout for not only physical symptoms (such as the weight loss and restlessness) but also the emotional and mental side effects. Fairly uncommon, hyperthyroidism is found in about 1 percent of women, and even less in men.
On the flip side of hyperthyroidism is hypothyroidism, where the thyroid is not producing enough hormones.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- Persistent fatigue
- General weakness
- Dry skin
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Memory problems
- Weight gain
- Slow heart rate
Hypothyroidism is common in people over 60 years old and the chances of your parent getting is increases with age. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism look a lot like what you may think of just the natural consequences of getting older or may look like mental health issues. The symptoms can be very different from person to person, with each person having different aspects of their health being affected by having an underactive thyroid.
Often, checking the thyroid is one of the last ways a doctor will use to try to determine what is causing your parent to suffer with symptoms, whether they are hypo or hyper thyroid symptoms. As a caregiver, you can request a blood test if your parent has several symptoms and feel her thyroid might be the problem. There are no big risk factors for developing a thyroid disease except a family history.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Jacksonville, FL, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (904) 342-6040