When I used to think of the thyroid gland, I used to think (the biology specialist that I am) that it was located next to the spleen….oops! It’s not. It is located in our neck. Its purpose is to produce hormones that help to control our metabolism.
As we age, our thyroids may develop the tendency to become lumpy or nodular. Around the same time (or maybe even five years earlier) that our hypothalamus changes, a human being’s metabolism begins to slow thus our thyroid hormones are produced and then broken down or metabolized at the same rate. Although tests may reveal that the body is functioning at a normal level, the rest of our body may change because of the decrease in metabolism.
In addition, the four tiny glands located around our thyroid, the parathyroid glands, can change; affecting our calcium and phosphate levels. As I have already discussed, a change in calcium can affect the strength of our bones which can lead to bone breaks in the short term or osteoporosis in the long run.
Another lesson revealed earlier was about the hormone insulin that is produced in our pancreas. If this is off, a human could develop diabetes which could lead to a whole host of other issues as I wrote about for approximately two weeks (there is a lot to be learned about diabetes and even more to be leery of!).
- Aldosterone regulates fluid and electrolyte balance.
- Cortisol is the “stress response” hormone. It affects the breakdown of glucose, protein, and fat, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effects.
The NIH (National Institute of Health) also reveals that:
Aldosterone release decreases with age, which can contribute to light-headedness and a drop in blood pressure with sudden position changes (orthostatic hypotension). Cortisol release also decreases with aging, but the blood level of this hormone stays about the same. Dehydroepiandrosterone levels also drop, although the effects of this drop on the body are not clear.
Tomorrow I will finish the hormone production changes information and we will move on. For now, remember that With Age Comes Respect and learning all about the body’s functionality will help you to be straight on the importance of caregiving!