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If you’ve been diagnosed with low thyroid function, check your medicine cabinet first

Depending on where they live, anywhere from 10-15 % of seniors have been told they have low thyroid function, especially women.

Nearly always this has followed some vague complaint, usually of fatigue (or worse, a screening test for no apparent reason, just age – who doesn’t feel more tired when they reach the age of 65? or 55? or 45?) and then a thyroid function test, nearly always a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level.

If TSH is up, that is supposed to mean your brain is signaling the thyroid to produce more hormone; Ergo, your thyroid is under-performing and you need to take thyroid hormone pills.

Or not.

According to a study just presented at the (American) Endocrine Society’s annual meeting that analyzed data from 538,137 adults age 65 and older who used thyroid hormone, over 30 % of those adults who were taking thyroid hormone were also taking medications that are known to interfere with thyroid function tests.

Especially, you may have guessed, women.

Usual advice: If you are on thyroid medication, best to talk to your doctor about the reason the next time your prescription comes due.