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The thyroid: Its importance to older adults

With the new year just beginning, many of us are focusing on the healthy resolutions we have made to ourselves and a renewed commitment to wellness. Since January is Thyroid Awareness month, it may be a good idea to examine the thyroid’s role in health and wellness.

Image result for thyroid picture
Image via medlineplus.gov

 

The thyroid is a small gland located in the base of the neck . Many important biological functions are maintained by the thyroid including the regulation of metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate (Check out endocrineweb’s overview of the thyroid here). Having too much or too little of certain thyroid hormones can lead to a variety of symptoms, with some being less noticeable or overlooked in the older adult.

According to the American Thyroid Foundation, hypothyroidism (having too little thyroid hormone) is increasingly common in individuals over 60. Symptoms may include weight gain, dry skin, and constipation. This condition is often treated with medication prescribed by your doctor. Having too much thyroid hormone is called hyperthyroidism, which can cause certain body functions to speed up. Symptoms may include an increase in heart rate or a tremor. To learn more about the thyroid and older adults, a great article by the American Thyroid Foundation can be found here .

Here’s to healthy aging in the New Year!