Symptoms in seniors and other patients with hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, include sudden weight loss, vision problems, hand tremors, rapid or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, thinning hair, and – in some cases – the development of a neck goiter.
One major difference that influences hyperthyroidism treatments for seniors is that older patients usually have only one or two of these symptoms. In order to confirm the hyperthyroidism diagnosis, doctors use blood tests and thyroid scans to determine if overactive thyroid is the problem.
Options for hyperthyroidism treatments for seniors are somewhat narrower than for younger patients. For example, a thyroidectomy, in which part of the thyroid is removed, is a last resort, due to the increased risk of any surgery in older patients. Likewise, radioactive iodine is used only with caution in seniors with overactive thyroids, because it can cause other body functions to slow down too drastically.
Doctors often start older patients with antithyroid drugs to treat overactive thyroids. These cause a more gradual “slow down” of the thyroid for seniors than the more quickly-acting radioactive iodine. Therefore, even If the iodine therapy is still indicated after the initial course of antithyroid drugs, the change will be less of a shock to the system than going straight to iodine therapy might cause.
If rapid heartbeat is one of the main symptoms of the hyperthyroidism in a senior patient, the doctor may also prescribe beta-adrenergic blockers.
Whatever the treatment plan seniors and their doctors decide upon for hyperthyroidism, frequent monitoring of all body systems is even more crucial than it is for younger patients with overactive thyroids.
For more information about getting diagnosed and receiving hyperthyroidism treatments for seniors, call us at our Frisco location.