Hypothyroidism in elderly patients often goes undetected

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From: Drawbar Natalie Hull

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Instead of thyroid disease, is depression or dementia diagnosed? It is not unusual, because older people in particular show non-specific symptoms.

Thyroid disease is coming strong German Thyroid Center extremely common and can occur at any age. In Germany, approximately one in three adults develops at least one pathological change in the thyroid gland in their lifetime; the frequency increases with age. In many cases, the symptoms of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism or inflammation are not correctly interpreted by those affected due to ignorance. But there are also doctors who, given the series of signs, do not immediately conclude that the thyroid gland is involved and initially make the wrong diagnosis: hypothyroidism can be very dangerous for children, and mental illnesses are often fatally diagnosed in older people. .

Depression or hypothyroidism: often misdiagnosed in older people

Woman touches her head.
What to do if an underactive thyroid goes undetected and can be classified as a mental illness, such as depression or dementia? (Iconic image) © Westend61/Imago

The symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) are diverse and different for each person affected. This often makes recognizing a hormonal imbalance not so easy. A doctor is needed to take a detailed history on the patient’s behalf and check hormone values ​​using a detailed blood count. Although certain warning signs point to a disease of the thyroid gland in many patients, older people tend to show only isolated symptoms, such as sensitivity to cold, poor performance or very intense tiredness due to hormonal imbalance.

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Hypothyroidism: If you have symptoms, see your doctor in time

If you notice one of these signs for the first time or regularly, or even all of them, do not hesitate to go to your family doctor or to an endocrinologist, a specialist in diseases of the hormone-producing glands, with a request to check the thyroid. values. Older people also often describe prolonged periods of depressed mood, which may be related to the thyroid. It is not uncommon for such signs to be mistaken for depression, dementia, or simply as a sign of aging, as is the case with online doctor is described. The actual cause of the symptoms, hypothyroidism, goes undetected, much to the chagrin of those affected. In reality, a different and specific diagnosis based on several simple memory tests, which is used specifically for dementia and Alzheimer’s, is required to prove mental illness.

It is also important for older patients with diagnosed hypothyroidism to know: Those affected usually require a smaller amount of the thyroid hormone L-thyroxine, since the natural level of the hormone in old age differs from that of younger people. The therapy begins with a low initial dose, the final dose should be higher than that of young patients. The background is that too low TSH values ​​in people over 70 years of age are associated with a higher mortality rate. Also watch out for possible side effects and interactions, for example with coffee when you take your thyroid medication.

This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It in no way replaces a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors cannot answer individual questions about clinical pictures.

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