Hypothyroidism in elderly patients often goes undetected

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Is depression or dementia diagnosed instead of thyroid disease? This is not unusual, as older people in particular show non-specific symptoms.

Thyroid disease comes in loud German Thyroid Center extremely common and can occur at any age. In Germany, about one in three adults will develop at least one pathological change in the thyroid gland during their lifetime – the frequency increases with age. The symptoms of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or Hashimoto’s inflammation are often not correctly interpreted by those affected due to ignorance. However, there are also doctors who, taking into account a number of symptoms, do not immediately conclude that it is a thyroid gland, and initially make the wrong diagnosis – hypothyroidism can be very dangerous for children, mental illnesses are often fatally diagnosed in the elderly.

Depression or hypothyroidism: Often misdiagnosed in the elderly

What to do when insufficient thyroid function is not detected and can be classified as a mental illness such as depression or dementia? (Iconic image) © Westend61/Imago

The symptoms of reduced activity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) are different and vary from person to person. Because of this, it is often not so easy to recognize a hormonal imbalance. A doctor needs to take a detailed history and check hormone levels with a detailed blood count on behalf of the patient. While many patients have certain warning signs of thyroid disease, older people tend to show only isolated symptoms such as sensitivity to cold, poor performance, or extreme fatigue due to hormonal imbalances.

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Hypothyroidism: See your doctor early if you have symptoms

If you notice any of these symptoms for the first time or regularly, or even all of them, do not hesitate to visit your general practitioner or an endocrinologist, a specialist in diseases of the glands that produce hormones – with a request to check the value of the thyroid gland. Older people also often describe prolonged periods of depressed mood, which may be related to the thyroid. It is not uncommon for these symptoms to be mistaken for depression, dementia, or even simply a sign of aging, such as Online doctor is described. The real cause of the symptoms, hypothyroidism, remains undiscovered – much to the chagrin of sufferers. In fact, a different, specific diagnosis based on various simple memory tests is required to prove mental illness, which is used specifically for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

For elderly patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism, it is also important to know: Affected people usually need lower amounts of the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine, because the natural level of the hormone in old age is different from that of younger people. Therapy starts with a low initial dose, then the final dose should be higher than in young patients. This is because too low TSH values ​​in people over 70 are associated with higher mortality. Also watch out for possible side effects and interactions, for example with coffee when taking thyroid medication.

This article contains only general information on the relevant health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. In no case does it replace a doctor’s visit. Unfortunately, our editors are not authorized to answer individual questions regarding clinical images.

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