Oct 29, 2009

Alzheimer's or Dementia Get the Thyroid Checked

I wish I could shout this from the mountain top: when Alzheimer's or dementia present, get the thyroid checked.

By Bob DeMarco 
 Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer's or Dementia Get the Thyroid Checked

Yesterday I was reminded of our good fortune after I read an article about hypothyroidism and Alzheimer's disease.

What happened? During the television show Everybody Loves Raymond my mother started laughing. Later in the day it got even better.

I had the World series on television and when they started singing the National Anthem -- my mother started singing along. Incredible.

Why is this incredible? For over two years before we discovered that my mother was suffering from a sluggish thyroid -- she did not laugh or smile. Not once.

I am sure you can imagine how disconcerting this was to me. It hurt.

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Alzheimer's, Thyroid and Hypothyroidism

I wish I could shout this from the mountain top: when Alzheimer's or dementia present, get the thyroid checked.
About a year ago, I read an article on hypothyroidism and posted it to this blog.

The article described the symptoms of hypothyroidism and how it is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease in women only.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism include: forgetfulness, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and fatigue. All of these were present in my mother. As a result, I asked our personal physician to check my mother's thyroid.

Sure enough she was suffering from a sluggish thyroid. He prescribed levothyroxine.

The results of the medication for us were remarkable. Within a couple of days my mother started to smile. Next thing I knew, my mother started to experience an occasional hearty laugh. Something she had not done in years. If you are a caregiver, like me, you will understand how frustrating it can be when your loved one stops laughing and smiling.

I believe you can understand how wonderful I felt, when I heard my mother laugh for the first time in years. My mother continues to smile with greater frequency, and I can tell you she went for years without a smile before the introduction of the drug.

An additional benefit of the thyroid medication included a slow but gradual loss of weight (about 8 pounds so far).

We were fortunate that we read the article on hypothyroidism.
If you, a friend, or a loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's please get the thyroid checked closely.

In the book The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems the authors discuss in detail physical problems that can and do effect memory. The book is worth obtaining and reading. It is full of beneficial information and resources.

I am not trying to mislead you here. The prescribed drug did not cure my mother's Alzheimer's. But, there is quite a bit of research which indicates that hypothyroidism can present as Alzheimer's or dementia.

Original content Bob DeMarco, Alzheimer's Reading Room