An important part of aging well is to know your body and what it’s trying to tell you. Having a sense of what’s normal and knowing how to tell when something might be off can mean the difference between deteriorating health and aging well into your golden years.
The majority of us probably don’t think twice when something goes awry with our bodies, chalking it up to old age or dismissing it as “nothing serious.” A lot of times, you’re right and you’re still perfectly on route to aging well. But there are a few instances where “nothing serious” might really be your body giving you subtle clues that you’re on the brink of serious health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, that, without proper treatment, will hinder your body’s ability to continue aging well.
That being said, this doesn’t mean that you need to run to the doctor over every cough or sneeze, because it may very well be something perfectly normal. But for aging well, it’s important to monitor things like this to ensure that they don’t appear suddenly, gradually worsen, or sustain over unusually long periods of time. At the end of the day, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health and aging well.
If you’re concerned about aging well, it’s important to know what warning signs to be wary of. Here are some common issues that may be masking more serious health concerns:
• Toothaches, bleeding gums: Oral health is, of course, an important aspect of aging well, but if you take good care of your teeth and gums and still experience toothaches, it may be a sign of diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), or angina (insufficient oxygen supply to your heart). In rare cases, bleeding and inflamed gums can even be a sign of leukemia.
• Itchy ears and/or throat: You may not connect itchy ears or throat with poor digestive health and aging well, but these symptoms can be the sign of candida overgrowth. Normally, the yeast-based fungus lives mostly in your stomach to aid with digestive health. But consuming too much refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup can lead to overproduction, whereby the candida breaks through your intestinal wall and releases toxins into your bloodstream, which can lead to a host of other conditions that interfere with aging well.
• Constipation: Constipation isn’t always associated with aging well, but it may be a sign that your digestive health isn’t functioning properly. This could mean that your anti-aging diet is lacking fiber. Chronic constipation can also be a sign that you’re not aging well because it’s often a symptom of other conditions, like hypothyroidism, depression, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or colon cancer.
• Muscle weakness: Maintaining muscle strength is essential for aging well, so when you start feeling weak and physically unstable, it might mean you have a vitamin B12 deficiency. A lot of the other symptoms of this deficiency are often misdiagnosed or assumed to be normal side effects of aging, such as fatigue, depression, low blood pressure, tingling hands and/or feet, and gradual memory loss. Leaving a vitamin B12 deficiency untreated can seriously interfere with aging well as it can lead to severe neurological conditions and even diseases in the blood.
• Weight loss: Weight loss is good for aging well, unless it happens suddenly, drastically, and without trying. Unexplained weight loss can be an indication of various health conditions, including Crohn’s disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, Parkinson’s disease, or infection. If you’re taking care of your anti-aging diet and staying active, weight loss is understandable and even appreciated for aging well, but if it happens without any effort, it’s usually one of the first signs that something isn’t right.
• Thinning hair: Thinning hair is expected even when you’re aging well, but if you notice that your strands are breaking more than normal, you may have a problem with your thyroid. If left untreated, thyroid disorders can lead to more severe conditions over the long-term. You might be doing everything right for aging well, but even your hair can be a dead giveaway that you need to go for a checkup.
Beck, M., “What Your Body is Telling You,” The Wall Street Journal web site, July 23, 2009; https://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB124571709339739367.
Chao, N., “Female Hair Loss: Thinning Hair,” Marie Claire web site, January 25, 2008; https://www.marieclaire.com/hair-beauty/trends/thinning-hair.
Guthrie, C., “What Is Your Body Trying to Tell You?,” Experience Life web site, May 2010; https://experiencelife.com/article/what-your-body-is-trying-to-tell-you/.
Myers, A., “10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth & What To Do About It,” MindyBodyGreen web site, April 4, 2013; https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8376/10-signs-you-have-candida-overgrowth-what-to-do-about-it.html.
Shiel, W.C., “Toothache,” MedicineNet web site; https://www.onhealth.com/toothache/page6.htm#what_are_non_dental_causes_of_toothaches, last accessed November 12, 2013.
Skerrett, P.J., “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful,” Harvard Health Publications web site, January 10, 2013; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitamin-b12-deficiency-can-be-sneaky-harmful-201301105780.
“The Basics of Constipation,” WebMD web site; https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation, last accessed November 12, 2013.”
“Unexplained weight loss: Causes,” Mayo Clinic web site; https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/unexplained-weight-loss/MY00713/DSECTION=causes, last accessed November 12, 2013.