Ageing Pains?

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Khadijah*, 63, was a doting grandmother. She enjoyed gardening and even grew her own vegetables in her backyard. She also loved to spend time with her grandchildren. Whenever they visited, she would cook delicious meals just for them.

However, Khadijah began to find it increasingly difficult to complete her daily chores. Her body ached for no apparent reason and she also suffered from joint pains. On some days, she even struggled to bend over. She was very upset with her health condition and confided in her children about it. Unfortunately, her aches and pain were dismissed as part of ageingAs her health slowly deteriorated, Khadijah felt exasperated. She really longed to do the things she loved most, gardening and cooking. Then, following a close friend’s advice, she decided to speak to her doctor about her ill health.

After a simple blood test , Khadijah was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given levothyroxine pills to help manage the disorder. Khadijah had never heard of hypothyroidism but was amazed at how well she felt following treatment. She was not only more flexible, but felt liberated as she no longer had to suffer throughout the day and could finally indulge in her favourite activities.

*Pseudonym

Don’t be burdened by hypothyroidism

  • Women above 60 years have a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland is unable to produce sufficient thyroid hormones, compared with men.1
  • It is not easy to diagnose hypothyroidism because most of the symptoms are not specific and could easily be mistaken for normal ageing.2,3
  • The coexistence of multiple chronic diseases in the elderly as well as the side effects of medications can further mimic or mask the symptoms.3
  • When untreated, it could lead to decreased memory, slowed speech & thinking, muscle weakness, carpal tunnel syndrome and high blood cholesterol.3,4

Reference

  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Hypothyroidism [Internet]. 2016. [cited 2016 Sep 14]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/endocrine/hypothyroidism/Pages/fact-sheet.aspx
  2. Bensenor IM, Olmos RD, Lotufo PA. Hypothyroidism in the elderly: diagnosis and management. Clinical Interventions in Aging 2012:7 97–111.
  3. Rehman SU, Cope DW, Senseney AD, Brzezinski W. Thyroid disorders in elderly patients. South Med J. 2005 May;98(5):543-9.
  4. University of Maryland Medical Centre. Hypothyroidism [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2016 May 23]. Available from: http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/hypothyroidism