Over 40? 11 Important Health Signs to Watch Forby Carissa Andrews - September 28th, 2020
When people turn fifty, it’s typically a crucial year for many people. Not just because it’s the big 5-0, either. Being fifty has been shown to kick of a number of health-related issues into high gear. However, many of them are also signs that might be easy to spot if you know what to look for. So, if you’re over forty, you might just want to perk up and pay attention. Here ‘s a list of 11 important health signs you need to be on the lookout for before your turn fifty (and of course, afterward).
1. Hair changes – One of the first signs of aging is often the dreaded hair changes associated. From going gray to thinning hair, it’s pretty standard to assume changes in hair will be coming your way as you get older. However, when things like hair loss and thinning occur, you’re dealing with a shift in your body’s hormonal balance. Typically, this is due to a dip in testosterone in both men and women. By understanding the hormonal changes and imbalances that cause hair loss or thinning, we can combat some of the more problematic symptoms that can also come along with it.
2. Vision problems – By the time we’re sixty, eye-related eye problems are pretty noticeable. Vision can deteriorate, making it harder to read things you once could. Other eye issues can crop up, like cataracts, melanoma, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. The best thing to do is get routine eye exams. In fact, adults over forty should schedule one in each year.
3. Insomnia – Even though it’s pretty common for people not to get enough sleep, as we age, insomnia can wreak havoc on your body. Not only does it affect your overall energy levels, but it can also increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even be linked to depression. If you’re having trouble getting in enough Z’s or having trouble staying asleep once you’re in bed, it might be time to talk to a sleep therapist to see what changes can be made.
4. Big belly – Many people call big bellies as we age “beer bellies,” but in all honesty, they are simply caused by reduced testosterone and too many calories – of any kind. The problem with too much fat around the midsection is that this type of fat is linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other scary health conditions if left unchecked. According to WebMD, when waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, it increases overall mortality rates.
5. Weakness – Does it seem like it’s getting harder and harder to get up and moving? We’re not just talking about the desire to get up and move around, but the physical action itself. The less we do, our bodies start to deteriorate faster. When physical weakness presents itself, it’s another sign hormones are changing and we need to take action. Sometimes, taking action is literally through movement. Lifting weights and working out can increase the hormones, such as testosterone, that make us feel strong. – for both men and women.
6. Sex Drive or Function Problems - Chock this one up to hormonal imbalance again. Do you see a trend here? Sexual intimacy with our spouses and partners is a critical component to a healthy relationship. It keeps us connected and staves off depression and other issues. Low sex drive and erectile dysfunction (ED) are both closely linked to hormonal imbalances and are likely not going to get better with time. Instead, being proactive by talking to your doctor can be crucial to combatting this form of aging. Sometimes medication, is the best answer. In addition, for men, erectile dysfunction can also point to underlying heart or blood vessel issues. Ignoring it could mean potentially running the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
7. Irritability – Everyone has good days and bad days and aging adults are no different. However, any drastic changes in behavior or personality could be a sign something more is amiss. Extreme irritability, for example, can be a possible sign of Alzheimer’s disease or some other underlying health condition that hasn’t yet been discovered.
8. Heartburn – By the time you’re forty, nearly everyone has experienced heartburn at one point or another. However, frequent heartburn could actually be a sign of coronary artery disease. The build-up of plaque in your arteries can lead to angina – chest pain that feels like heartburn. If you’re mistaking angina for heartburn, it could mean running the risk of having a heart attack, which is definitely not something you want to mess with.
9. Bloody urine – While blood in your urine isn’t good at any age, it’s definitely a health concern once you’re over forty. Blood in the urine can be caused by a host of scary health issues from a simple infection, to kidney stones, or even bladder or kidney cancer. Get this one checked out right away if you experience this symptom.
10. Blood in your stool – Sometimes this symptom can be benign, for example, thanks to hemorrhoids. But sometimes, finding blood in your stool can be far more nefarious. It can be pointing toward colorectal cancer. Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, was just 43 years old when he died this year from colon cancer. This is not only sad and upsetting, but it’s a wakeup call for us since colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women in the US.
11. Frequent headaches – Headaches are tricky business. Not only can they be fairly common, thanks to our lifestyles, stress levels, and more – but sometimes, depending on frequency and severity, they can be caused by something much worse. Brain tumors can increase the pressure in the brain, resulting in headaches that never seem to go away. If you experience frequent or severe headaches, it’s time to see a neurologist. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
3 Key Ways to Stay Healthy Past Your 40s
While we can’t always prevent all the bad stuff from happening, there are three key ways we can stay as healthy as possible. If we can manage these to the best of our abilities, our health will improve dramatically and our risk for health issue related to aging decreases.
1. Drink more water – 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This causes muscle fatigue, dizziness, confusion and reduced cognitive processing, dry mouth, and more. Increasing our water intake to 64oz or so on days without extreme exercise or heat exposure is ideal. Drink up to 100oz of water on days when you do workout vigorously or plan to be in the sun or out in the heat.
2. Eat better – It may come as no surprise, after all, you know the adage - we are what we eat. Choosing foods that make up a healthy diet (low in sugar and fat) is the best way to increase your longevity, reduce the risk of heart and cardiovascular problems, and overall, stave off other health problems.
3. Exercise often – Getting up and moving around increases endorphins, spikes testosterone, and overall helps us feel alive and vibrant. Lifting weights also strengthens bones and keeps us healthy well into our senior years. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3-5x per week.
Being healthy in our fifties, sixties, and seventies often starts when we’re much younger. By paying attention to warning signs in your forties, you could spot a potential health hazard before it ever has the chance to develop further. Pay attention to the small changes happening to your body once you hit your forties. You never know when something small might actually be a bigger health risk in disguise.