May 22, 2014

Alzheimer's Thyroid - Is a Sluggish Thyroid Causing Your Memory Loss?

Did you know that a sluggish thyroid can present with symptoms of memory loss that are similar to Alzheimer's. Typically, a person may act like they are depressed and have memory problems.

Once again it happened. I heard about a woman in our community that was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

I ran into her caregiver who I only know as an acquaintance. As is my normal operating procedure, I started to ask questions.

Did you know that a sluggish thyroid can present with symptoms of memory loss that are similar to Alzheimer's.

I learned immediately that the diagnosis was made by a personal care physician. This is a huge red flag.

I learned that there was no MRI of any type, nor were there the typical battery of test that one might expect.

While I don't know for sure, it did not seem that many of the appropriate tests that are first used to look for a cause of memory loss other than dementia had been administered.


By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

As usual I asked was the thyroid tested? Is she suffering from a B12 deficiency? And on and on.
  • Did you know that Thyroid disease is fairly common in women over 60?
  • Did you know, studies indicate that up to 1 in 4 patients in nursing homes may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism.
  • Did you know that a sluggish thyroid, Hasimoto's disease mainly, can present with symptoms of memory loss that are similar to Alzheimer's. Typically, a person may act like they are depressed and have memory problems.
An undetected thyroid problem can result in dementia.


However, if caught early enough it can be reversed with a simple medication like levothyroxine. Levothyroxine is a synthetic thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism is often to referred to as an under active thyroid.

To diagnose hypothyroidism, physicians use a simple blood test that measures levels of thyroid hormones. Surgically removing the thyroid or destroying it with radioactive iodine can sometimes correct the cognitive problems.

Please note,  treatment does not always reverse dementia. However, it can reduce or remove symptoms of depression, etc.

My question to you,

Has the person you know with memory problems or who is having trouble thinking clearly had their thyroid checked by a specialist?

The symptoms of hypothyroidism are non-specific in patients -- even more so in older patient.

For example, memory loss or a decrease in cognitive functioning is often attributed to old age, and may be the only symptoms of hypothyroidism present.

I have written many times on this issue. I do this because I think it is important, critical even.

Tomorrow, I am going to write about how I read about the thyroid and asked our doctor to check my mother's thyroid closely. This was after my mother had a good solid diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's.

While a simple thyroid medication didn't cure my mother's dementia,

My mother, Dotty, laughed and smiled for the first time in two years after about 12 hours on the medication.

Have you given this issue any serious thought?

Have you had an experience with a sluggish thyroid? Can you tell us about it and how you felt?

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Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room