For women over 55, spotting an underactive thyroid can sometimes be difficult. While many people may experience the same symptoms present in younger people, there are many older women who show little to no hypothyroidism symptoms, making diagnosis hard.
If you notice any of these symptoms, they may be possible indicators of hypothyroidism. If so, consult your doctor or another medical professional to check your thyroid health.
In some cases, unexplained high cholesterol may be the only indicator of an underactive thyroid in people over 55. Because this may be the only sign, be sure that your doctor also evaluated your thyroid.
Left untreated, an underactive thyroid can result in reduced blood volume, weaker heart contractions, and an overall slower heart rate. All of these health issues can ultimately contribute to heart failure.
About half of people diagnosed with hypothyroidism experience some type of weight gain, usually around 5 to 10 pounds (although there are cases where women can gain more, especially if they have a severely underactive thyroid.) Most of this weight gain is increased salt and water retention, but some of it can also be due to increased fat gain.
Achy joints or muscles
In some cases, achy muscles and joints may be the only symptom of hypothyroidism in an older person. For many people who experience this pain, they primarily feel it in large muscle groups such as those in the legs.
Bowel movement changes
Because an underactive thyroid causes stool to move more through bowels, many people may experience constipation.
There are times when some older people with an underactive thyroid who may be misdiagnosed as having dementia. Therefore, most doctors usually will order thyroid testing for people who are presenting new signs of cognitive decline. If you or someone close is being evaluated dementia, make sure that your doctor also includes a thyroid test in their evaluation.