Have you been told your thyroid is a little low, but that it’s OK because you are “old” and that’s what happens to old people?

Well, a low temperature may not affect your life expectancy but it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. The list of symptoms is long, and it includes fatigue, intolerance to cold, dry skin, puffy eyes, muscle cramps, weak muscles, constipation, depression, slow thinking and poor memory. Your doctor may tend to dismiss these symptoms as simply signs of aging, but where does one draw the line? It’s abnormal to have these symptoms when you’re young but it’s normal when you’re old? When does one turn from young to old? 20 years old? 30? 40? 50? 60? Low temperatures can contribute to these symptoms at any age and low temperatures can often be normalized with proper treatment.

Here’s what I suggest. Take your body temperature. (For instructions on how to do this correctly, see “How are body temperatures measured” on our website.) If your body temperature is consistently low—below 98.5 F., or 36.94 C, but typically lower than 97.8 F, or 36.56 C.— there’s a good chance that you have low thyroid hormone function.

Second, get your body temperature back to normal through stress-reduction, healthy nutrition, herbs and exercise, or by taking a course of T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. This is a prescription drug, so you will need medical supervision, and we will be happy to help your doctor learn more about how to use T3 therapy. Alternatively, you can find a health care practitioner familiar with T3 therapy closest to you via our website.

Older people may have a problem converting T4 to T3, and some may do better taking the active form of T3, especially when it comes to cognitive-related thyroid issues.

I believe you don’t have to accept low temperature symptoms just because a few years have passed. There are a lot of things you can do to take charge of your health. So…how old is “old” to you?

Bensenor IM, Olmos RD, Lotufo PA. Hypothyroidism in the elderly: diagnosis and management. Clin Interv Aging. 2012;7:97-111.

Pollock MA, Sturrock A, Marshall K, et. al. Thyroxine treatment in patients with symptoms of hypothyroidism but thyroid function tests within the reference range: randomised double blind placebo controlled crossover trial. BMJ, 2001;323(7318):891-895.

Resta F Triggiani V, Barile G, et.al. Subclinical hypothyroidism and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2012 Sep;12(3):260-7.