Sourced with thanks from eatthis.com
As you age health issues abound. That is something everyone knows. But most of the focus is diseases that are high profile and have high awareness among seniors like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems etc. However, there are any number of unexpected health problems that can start bothering you after the age of 50. Some of them you may have heard of or experienced and a number of them may come as a surprise. Check out the article below, adapted from the original, in which the author shares a long list of such health problems with feedback from medical specialists. The information provided may help you to be better prepared to accept and deal with such health problems. This is Part 1 of the two-part series. Team RetyrSmart
Unexpected health problems that could bother you in later years (Part I)
As we age, we lose height because the discs between the vertebrae lose their water content and elasticity. In English, that means that the cushions between the bones in the spine get less spongy, lose their shape and become flattened. That causes the spine to shrink and people lose inches in height
Recommendation: The difference can be several inches from when you were younger so it important that you get your height measured along with your weight when you get your annual physical at your doctor’s office
Many men and women alike experience incontinence as they age. This includes leaks, urgency, as well as more frequent urinations prompting many people to restrict the amount of fluid intake which can then overburden the kidneys.
Recommendation: Kegel exercises will “help improve bladder control and possibly improve sexual performance. Also help you avoid embarrassing accidents.
You’ve Lost Your Libido
This is in obvious one, although it’s not just the urge but also the desire. Many people over 50 have lost an interest in their partners sexually or do not feel sexy themselves therefore are not interested in sex.
Recommendation: You’re sexy if you feel sexy. Think seriously about what’s holding you back and develop a plan to get over it. Also ask your doctor about sexual dysfunction drugs like Viagra, Cialis or, for premenopausal women, Addyi—whatever stigma there once was is gone.
Your Lower Eyelids Get Wonky
We start to get more fat herniations in our lower lids and that can show up as lower lid malpositions—that’s an abnormal position of your eyelid—which require lower lid surgery. Your eyelid might be abnormally high, or low, or droop, or turn inward or outward.
Recommendation: Not much prevention here, but definitely treatable. If you’re self-conscious about how it looks, a filler can be used to camouflage problems, depending on how comfortable you are with plastic surgery.
You’re More Susceptible to Stress
Who wouldn’t be, given all you’ve lived through, and the potential pitfalls to come? Stress is inevitable. What’s essential is that you don’t let it consume you. Stress over time can create apathy and a lack of joy. As people age they become overburdened and saddened by their current life experiences, hence the advent of the mid-life crisis to create more joy and excitement in one’s life.
Recommendation: If you find yourself dreading your days, a rain cloud over your head—or are considering drastic changes without much prep—share the burden: Talk about your choices with a caring family member or therapist. No one is alone.
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You Have Sleep Disordered Breathing
As women enter menopause and estrogen levels drop off they may experience unexpected symptoms like fatigue, daytime sleepiness, unexplained weight gain, chronic neck and shoulder pain and grinding of the teeth. These are all signs and symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing, SDO.
Here’s what happens when you have SDO: “Estrogen keeps the muscles of the airway tight and as the levels drop off the muscles become looser and the tongue can fall back into the throat blocking oxygen flow. The brain then has an immediate microarousal and signals the body to correct the oxygen situation. These microarousals may not be long enough to wake the person up, but just long enough to go from deep restorative sleep to light unrefreshed sleep.”
You then grind your teeth because it’s your “body’s compensation to open the airway and increase blood flow…that delivers oxygen to the brain.” You might also sleep on your side (causing a stiff neck or shoulder) or undergo chronic stress (from lack of sleep) without even knowing why.
Recommendation: If a person turns 50 and begins to notice these symptoms it’s time to get the sleep and airway checked out by an airway-focused dentist who can address tongue posturing and tongue space for a multitude of health benefits.
Your Sense of Taste Diminishes
We’re not saying you have bad taste. But it’s true that your taste sensations dull over time, as your buds shrink.
Recommendation: Reduce salt intake since you won’t detect it as readily as you have in the past. Too much salt can be harmful in other parts of your body. You can also cook foods with strong fragrances, which can make them “taste” more delicious.
You Get More Eczema
Skin conditions that often worsen as we age: eczema, psoriasis, and other issues regarding rheumatologic disorders start to surface in our 40s and 50s.
Recommendation: Get a great dermatologist to look at your skin closely and get a good history of your family’s skin conditions and rheumatologic history. Early diagnosis is key! You might also want to see a rheumatologist to check if you have an immune-mediated disorder.
Your Metabolism Slows
If a person is not eating healthy consistently their digestive process becomes affected. Over time, this damage will then affect the metabolism which is all the chemical processes in the body activating by vitamins and minerals. A person can train the metabolism to either slow down or speed up especially with nutrient deficiencies.
Recommendation: Up your intake of core proteins that will build more energy-burning muscle, consume the healthiest fats that help increase satiety and speed nutrients throughout your body, and reach for plenty of good-for-you carbs—yes, carbs—that provide essential fibre.
You Have Brittle Bones
Bone density naturally starts to diminish as we age and can lead to osteopenia/osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects everyone, especially women, as we age, and increases your risk of suffering from fractures.
Recommendation: It’s important to stay on top of it as we age. Vitamin D and calcium are crucial in maintaining bone density and slowing down the progression of osteopenia/osteoporosis. Ask your doctor about whether or not you’re getting enough of both.
You Have ‘Clumsy Hands’
If you have difficulty writing or buttoning up your shirt, this may be an early sign of cervical myelopathy, a condition that stems from the neck and affects the nerves in the aging population
Recommendation: It’s important you get assessed to stop any progression.
You Have a Loss of Energy
Everyone suffers from signs of aging eventually. What people don’t realize is how many of these symptoms are due to hormonal decline, which in turn leads to other issues and a decline in health and quality of life. Both men and women can experience energy loss with hormone changes. Unfortunately, a lack of energy can set off any number of negative chain reactions as well—poor performance in the gym and in the bedroom, lack of effectiveness at work or school, depression and just an inability to do the things you love doing. It can make it hard to continue to pursue the activities you’ve enjoyed your whole life and maintain progress and motivation at work and at play.
Recommendation: Balancing changes in hormone levels could return this lost energy. See your physician.
You Might Get Skin Cancer
Skin cancers are more prevalent as we age as we’ve been exposed to the sun longer.
Recommendation: Aggressive skin checks by you and a dermatologist can spot early stage cancers, get treatment and begin prevention with certain drugs and sunscreen.
Your Liver is Sluggish
As we age toxins affect the liver. That means alcohol, poor diet, sugar—even anger—create a liver that is sluggish and under functioning. As a result of a sluggish liver, the body has difficulty metabolizing nutrients as well as filtering out toxins into the blood.
Recommendation: Feed your liver detoxifying foods such as organic fruits and vegetables; lean proteins like turkey; healthy fats like avocados; and high-fibre foods like whole grain breads. And avoid so much alcohol and sugar—if it makes you feel sluggish, imagine your poor liver.
You’re Losing Your Hearing
Many people underestimate the impact of hearing loss as they age. Hearing loss can first seem insignificant, but in actuality, it can have negative impacts early on. When communication is affected, people often begin to withdraw from social interactions. As hearing loss progresses, this withdrawal can become more pronounced. This is ultimately a reduction in activity for the brain at a time when cognitive decline is beginning.
Recommendation: Hearing aids these days are barely noticeable; talk to an audiologist about whether or not you need one. Amplification can help keep the auditory centres of the brain active, promoting more communication and social interaction.
You’ve Got Increased Anxiety
Anxiety is a very real psychological disorder that affects many people. Some people are more susceptible to anxiety than others and your current physical health can play a role in how anxiety manifests itself in your life. And because hormones play such an important role in the development of anxiety, many people with anxiety feel that their symptoms continue to increase as they age.
Recommendation: Talk to your doctor and a psychologist or psychiatrist about the proper course of action. Some anxiety medications attempt to treat the symptoms of anxiety when hormonal imbalance could be causing your anxiety and depression.
You’ve Got Dry Eye
With age, the tear gland—called the lacrimal gland—has been shown to produce less tear volume. Glands in the eyelids—called themeibomian glands—also start to atrophy and often produce less of the oily part of the tears that prevent their evaporation. Both of these factors contribute to nearly everyone over age 50 suffering from some form of dry eye. Dry eye produces symptoms including grittiness, watering, red eye, intermittent blurred vision, and discomfort.
Recommendation: Treatment includes over the counter tears. If these are not sufficient, a doctor can prescribe medications or treat with in office therapies.
You’ve Got Cataracts
Throughout life, the lens inside the eye gradually becomes more dense and starts to become cloudy instead of crystal clear. This change is referred to as cataracts. By age 60, nearly everyone will have some degree of cataracts that can be seen by an eye doctor. Symptoms of cataracts include blurred vision, glare and halos around lights, trouble seeing in dim light, and difficulty driving at night.
Recommendation: Treatment involves surgery done by an ophthalmologist. The majority of Americans now have cataract surgery before age 70. Cataract growth is believed to be slowed by wearing UV protection, such as sunglasses, and eating a well-balanced diet with antioxidant sources, such as colourful fruits and leafy green vegetables.
You See ‘Floaters’
Though they can occur at any stage in life, floaters are most likely after age 50. Floaters are changes in the gel structure in the back of the eye called the vitreous. The vitreous, which is clear early in life, starts to become more solid and form clumps, which float through the vision. Symptoms include spots in the vision which can appear as dots, lines, webs, rings, or shapes.
Recommendation: With any sudden change in floaters, patients should see an eye doctor to ensure that their retina is healthy. Urgent evaluation is needed for anyone having severe sudden new floaters, particularly if accompanied by flashes of light or a curtain effect in the vision. The vast majority of floaters are benign and no intervention is needed. For patients with very symptomatic floaters, many ophthalmologists offer laser or surgical treatments which can reduce the appearance of floaters.”
You Might Have Sleep Apnea
Have you ever seen someone who snores suddenly stop for a few seconds, then take a snort, and then start snoring again? That is sleep apnea in a nutshell. When we sleep, the muscles throughout our bodies relax, including the muscles in our airway. With this relaxation comes a narrower airway. Often times the airway is so narrow that the movement of air leads to vibration of the surrounding airway, thereby producing a snore.
That snore isn’t just annoying; it could be dangerous. Unfortunately, for some people, the airway becomes so narrow that it becomes intermittently blocked, which makes breathing difficult. This problem of a recurrent blocked airway is known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Recommendation: If you snore, see a doctor. Intermittent blockages at night can become quite problematic if they are occurring frequently at night. They can lead to very poor quality of sleep and fatigue the next day, but even more seriously, sleep apnea…can lead to chronic hypertension, in addition to increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
You Need More Recovery Time
People over 50 most certainly are not spring chickens anymore and therefore need more time to recover from exercise, increased physical activity levels, any activity to which their bodies are not accustomed.
Recommendation: Stay active. It’s important for your heart health. But if your body tells you to rest more before, after and during exercise, listen up.
You Get More Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds get more common with advancing age for a number of reasons. As we age our blood vessels get thinner and less resilient. Other conditions that can predispose to nosebleeds such as hypertension (high blood pressure) become more common and as we age we are more likely to use blood thinners. This confluence of factors makes nosebleeds much more common.”
Recommendation: For patients that experience nosebleeds I usually recommend a humidifier in the bedroom and the use of products designed to keep the nasal cavity moist. It is also important to avoid picking at or scratching the nose. When a nosebleed occurs it is important to remember to use good first aid techniques. Patients should pinch the cartilage at the front of the nose (the soft part of the nose) and lean forwards. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, or if it’s severe, then it is important to seek medical attention.
Continuing in Part 2