15 Warning Signs From Your Body You Should Never Ignore if You’re Over 50
Plenty of people over the age of 50 are living out the happiest years of their life. With that said, you’re familiar with how it feels to get older — and you know by now that those daily creaks, aches, and pains are probably here to stay.
You should keep in mind, however, that just because you may not be as agile as you once were doesn’t mean every slight issue you’re experiencing is normal. Your body may be sending you warning signs that disease — or even death — is in your near future. Here are the signs you should never ignore, especially if you’re older than 50.
1. Your handwriting gets smaller
What it could be: Parkinson’s disease
Have you analyzed your handwriting lately? Healthline explains Parkinson’s disease affects around 500,000 people in the U.S. each year, and it’s a movement disorder first starting in your brain. When neurons in the brain start to die, that’s when Parkinson’s sets in — and you may notice some strange symptoms, like shrinking handwriting.
The next time you’re writing something down, take a look. Some people with Parkinson’s in the early stages will notice they start out writing normally and their handwriting gets smaller as they continue.
Next: Your dentist may be able to clue you into this one.
2. Your teeth are worn down
What it could be: Acid reflux
Certain foods and drinks can wear down your teeth, but that’s not all. Reader’s Digest explains acid reflux can seriously damage your teeth — and you may not even know you have it. Evan Dellon, M.D., tells Reader’s Digest, “I often get referrals from dentists with patients who don’t feel heartburn or other reflux symptoms, but their teeth enamel is completely worn down.”
Other symptoms of acid reflux include a sore throat that seemingly never goes away, wheezing, coughing, and a bad taste in your mouth.
Next: You may not realize this is happening — but your partner certainly does.
3. You suddenly start snoring
What it could be: Heart disease
It seems harmless, but snoring can actually indicate you’re going to have major heart problems in the near future. Science Daily explains research from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found snoring may put you at a greater risk for thickening or abnormalities in the arteries than having excess fat or high cholesterol.
No matter if you’ve just started snoring or you’ve been a long-time snorer, you should seek treatment. Snoring can cause sleep apnea, which has long been linked to cardiovascular disease — the No. 1 killer in the U.S.
Next: Always sick? Don’t ignore it.
4. You’re sick with the common cold all the time
What it could be: Not enough good bacteria in your gut
You can blame a consistent cold on being around other sick folks. But if you feel like you have a cold more often than you don’t, it could be a sign you don’t have enough good gut flora.
Care2 reports how effectively your immune system is working is determined largely by your gut. If you have an imbalance going on, it means your body can’t defend itself, resulting in sickness. And, if you’ve been on antibiotics a lot recently, this can also cause a serious gut imbalance, resulting in more colds.
Next: You may be glad to see this sign — but it’s not always good.
5. You’re losing weight unexpectedly
What it could be: Cancer
Your metabolism slows as you get older, making weight loss more difficult than it was in your 20s. If you start losing a rapid amount of weight unexpectedly when you’re over 50, you’ll want to ask your doctor for possible causes. In one of the more extreme scenarios, it could be cancer.
The American Cancer Society notes weight loss can be an early sign you have cancer, especially if the loss is 10 pounds or more. This is a more likely symptom of cancers that affect the pancreas, stomach, esophagus, or lungs.
Next: Are your burger and fries making you nauseous? Don’t ignore it.
6. You’re nauseous after eating fatty foods
What it could be: Gallstones or gallbladder disease
You probably know someone who’s had their gallbladder removed — and they may have experienced this symptom, too. Livestrong.com notes over 25 million Americans develop gallstones over time, which are from bile that hardens into stones in your gallbladder. And you may notice nausea, pain, or vomiting following a fatty meal if you have issues with your gallbladder.
If your doctor finds gallbladder disease is the problem, it’s more than likely they’ll recommend a diet low in cholesterol as well as trans and saturated fats.
Next: Take a look at your hands for this next sign.
7. Your knuckles are inflamed or purple
What it could be: Cancer
This one seems odd, but it’s another sign cancer could be looming. The University of Rochester Medical Center explains dermatomyositis causes muscle inflammation and rash — and if you have it, you may notice red or purple spot developing on your knuckles. This condition typically affects those from 50 to 70 years old.
The good news is even if you have dermatomyositis, it’s not a surefire guarantee something is seriously wrong with you. In some cases, you may have just inherited the genes and will only notice the skin symptoms.
Next: Your headaches shouldn’t get worse as you age.
8. You’re getting extreme headaches
What it could be: Brain aneurysm
You might just think your worsening headaches are another byproduct of getting older, but that’s not the case. And if you feel like you’re having the worst headache of your entire life, you may actually be having a brain aneurysm.
Everyday Health explains an aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel, and it can burst, causing excruciating pain. In some cases, however, those who have had an aneurysm burst are able to shake off the feeling and go about their daily life, despite bleeding that may be going on in the brain. If you feel like you’re having a particularly bad headache, call your doctor immediately.
Next: Your mouth can tell you more about your health than you’d expect.
9. Your gums are inflamed
What it could lead to: Heart disease
There’s more of a link between your gums and your heart than you think. Colgate notes if your gums are swollen and inflamed, you may have gum disease. And if that’s the case, then this can contribute to heart disease, too, as the bacteria from your gums can enter the bloodstream and eventually cause blood clots and heart attacks.
Make sure to attend your semi-annual teeth cleanings. Both your teeth and your heart will thank you for it.
Next: Changes in bathroom habits should also alarm you.
10. You’re urinating more often
What it could be: Type 2 diabetes
If you know that diabetes runs in your family and you haven’t gotten a physical in a while, it’s always a good idea to get everything checked out post-50. You can have Type 2 diabetes without even knowing it — and one of the signs is a frequent need to urinate.
Mayo Clinic explains when you have diabetes, your kidneys are working extra hard to filter the excess sugar. But if they can’t keep up with the demand, that sugar is excreted through your urine, which triggers the need to go. You may also notice that your thirst has increased when this happens.
Next: Need a new glasses prescription? This could be why.
11. Your vision is increasingly worse
What it could be: Too much aspirin
Many over 50 use aspirin to prevent heart disease. And if you’re in this camp, you should know how it can potentially affect your vision. WebMD explains aspirin may be linked to macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.
Doctors warn not to stop taking your aspirin if this scares you, however. Many take low-dose aspirin for long periods of time and it never results in blindness — but you should also be aware that other factors, such as genetics, smoking, high blood pressure, and age, can increase your risk as well.
Next: This seems like a minor annoyance, but it could be something more.
12. You have chronic pins and needles in your limbs
What it could be: Diabetes
It may seem like you’re just not getting good circulation from the way you’re sitting. But if you’re finding yourself shaking out your legs more often thanks to that uncomfortable pins-and-needles feeling, it could be diabetes.
ActiveBeat explains when the pins-and-needles feeling is related to diabetes, it’s because nerve damage has taken place. You might also feel throbbing, sharp pains, and numbness. If you’ve gotten to the point where diabetes is affecting your nerves, this means you’ve had the condition for quite some time, so make sure to see a doctor immediately.
Next: You’ll want to look closely at your hands after reading this.
13. Your nails look ridged
What it could be: Arthritis or anemia
We bet you’ll be paying more attention to your nails after this one. While many people develop ridges in their nails over time, it can actually signal that something’s going on in your body. Medical News Today explains there are various types of anemia that can lead you to develop vertical ridges along your nails. In this case, you may also notice changes in nail color or texture. Rheumatoid arthritis is another condition that can alter how your nails look.
Pay particular attention if the ridges coincide with your nails being particularly rough or easily breakable.
Next: Always need a coat? Read this.
14. You’re always cold
What it could be: Underactive thyroid
Your thyroid helps to regulate metabolism — and when it’s underactive, it comes with a wealth of symptoms aside from just weight gain. WebMD notes you may also feel cold easily, and you may also experience hair thinning, dry skin, fatigue, or constipation.
Older women are more susceptible to a slow thyroid than anyone else. If you suspect you may have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor about your options. You may be able to get synthetic thyroid hormones to help.
Next: This bodily function just seems like a nuisance, but it could signal something more.
15. Your hiccups just won’t go away
What it could be: Lung or esophageal cancer
Most cases of hiccups are totally harmless — but in some cases, they signal something serious. Cancer Research UK explains hiccups occur when your diaphragm spasms uncontrollably. And if you have lung or esophageal cancer that’s pressing on your diaphragm, this can also induce them.
If you find you’re hiccupping way more than normal for no discernable reason, it’s worth looking into.
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