Can hypothyroidism mimic dementia

Alzhiemer's Disease and your thyroid (Hypo-thyroidism)

A number of conditions can mimic Alzhiemer's disease or dementia symptoms, including an underactive thyroid. 

Nearly one in five people over the age of sixty have some degree of hypothyroidism, meaning a sluggish thyroid.  Symptoms include forgetfulness, weight gain, depression, irritability, dry skin, intolerance to cold, muscle aches, and fatigue.  People who are hypothyroid may feel as if they have mild Alzhiemer's Disease and depression all in one.

Hypothyroidism accounts for only a small number of dementia cases, but can be detected with a simple blood test (certain cases may need additional testing for accuracy).  If hypothyroidism is detected it can be managed with medication.  After the condition is under control, the memory loss and other symptoms will probably clear up.

Encourage the seniors in your life to have their thyroid tested, especially if they are becoming forgetful, irritable or depressed.  It may not be dementia or "old age"!

Published on May 18, 2012.