Over 40? Here Are 20 Things Your Body’s Trying to Tell You
Start speaking your body's language.
Your body has a lot to tell you. All you have to do is listen. From aches and pains to feelings of euphoria and relaxation, pretty much everything you feel indicates some bigger fact about your health and wellbeing—sometimes quirky or reassuring, but sometimes alarming. And this only becomes the case more and more as you get older. While often it’s obvious what your body is trying to say, at times, it can be totally subtle, vague, or even straight-up counterintuitive. To that end, here are 20 such messages to be aware of. And for more amazing health advice, Here Are 40 Health Mistakes You’re Too Old to Make After 40.
You Don’t Love Food as Much as You Once Did = Your Nose Has Issues
Less-than-tasty food may be due to the fact that you’re suffering from loss of smell. Between the ages of 40 and 60, your sense of smell begins to deteriorate. This can be the result of years of nasal problems and medications that have damaged our nasal passages over time. Less often, smell impairment may be a sign of serious diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Because taste is highly linked to an ability to smell, smell impairment also leads to taste loss. If you find that food is tasting bland, be careful not to add excessive salt, which can aggravate high blood pressure and diabetes. And to start eating with healthy aging in mind, stock up on these 50 Foods That Make You Look Younger.
You’ve Started Seeing Spots = Your Eyes Are Liquifying
As you age, the vitreous inside your eyeballs becomes “more liquid,” as the Mayo Clinic puts it: “Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina. The shadows you see are called floaters.” These “floaters” may appear as cobwebs, spots, and flecks that move around your field of vision. Though they don’t usually obstruct vision altogether, they can be a nuisance and make certain tasks difficult. They appear when the eye’s vitreous gel detaches from the retina due to time.
Only half of adults will have floaters in their eyes by the time they reach 80, but many who do can expect them to first appear around age 50. Most of the time, floaters will fade away, but in case they don’t, an invasive procedure called a vitrectomy can replace the damaged vitreous in the eye.
Your Knees Ache = You’ve Worn Out Your Cartilage
Osteoarthritis occurs in individuals over 40, as the cartilage between bones suffers from years of wear and tear. It may also be caused by obesity, allergies, or hormonal imbalances. The body’s natural response is painful inflammation that can be debilitating but is treatable. One effective strategy is to practice a few basic exercises that will help build back your cartilage. Calf stretches and flexing and extending your leg are great moves to start with. And for more ways to mitigate muscle pain, Here’s How to Conquer Lower Back Pain Forever.
Your Hair Is Thinning = You Need Tomatoes
Once again, hormones are to blame for an aging issues. For men, this means that your androgen receptors are becoming weaker. While androgens like testosterone are usually responsible for hair growth, one called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, has an opposite effect. DHT gradually shrinks hair follicles until they’ve completely disappeared. An effective way to reduce the DHT levels in your body is to eat foods high in lycopene, a natural DHT blocker. Tomatoes are a great option for this, and you can also toss carrots, mangoes and watermelon into the mix. And for more ways you’re wrecking your mane, check out these 15 Ways Women Over 40 Are Hurting Their Hair.
Your Mouth Is Now Frequently Dry = Your Meds Have Secret Side Effects
Ninety percent of the time, people who suffer from dry mouth, also called xerostomia, are experiencing a side effect of medication. Unfortunately, since adults are more likely to take medication in middle age, dry mouth is more common in middle age as well. Common medications that cause dry mouth include treatments for heart disease, diabetes, and low blood pressure. For women, though, there is a small chance the culprit is menopause. As estrogen levels plummet, mucous membranes lose moisture, which can give off the feeling of dry mouth.
Your Nails Break More Easily = You’ve Got an Out-of-Control Sweet Tooth
Nails require collagen to grow strong, and since the human body produces less and less collagen over time, your nails become weaker with age. Around the same time you start noticing your nails break more easily, you’ll probably notice that your fingers and hands appear thinner and more bony due to lack of collagen as well. The culprit is often what you are putting in your diet (too much refined sugar is particularly damaging to collagen production). Be sure to add nuts, avocados, and brown rice in the mix, too, as these are known to aid collagen production.
You’re Thirsty All the Time Now = Your Aldosterone Is Dropping
Hormone changes are at it again. But it doesn’t always have to do with estrogen or testosterone. Rather, as the endocrine system ages, glands reduce their production of the hormone aldosterone, which stores sodium for kidney function, sweat glands, and saliva production. Decreased levels of aldosterone are often accompanied by a feeling of dehydration, as well as a craving for salt, which helps retain water. You may want to look into an aldosterone supplement.
You Go to the Bathroom More Often = You’ve Got an Enlarged Prostate
If you find yourself running back and forth to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so, it could be that you have an enlarged prostate. In men, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BHP, is a relatively common, non-lethal condition in which the prostate enlarges so much, it pinches the urethra. As a defense, the bladder wall grows thicker, making it difficult to empty the bladder completely. Treatment isn’t always necessary, but there are minimally-invasive options to eliminate the problem.
You’ve Have More Earwax Than Ever = Your Ears Are Clean
This might be counterintuitive, since it’s natural to think of an ear with earwax in it as in serious need of a swab. But, as the Harvard Medical School blog explains, earwax “serves as a natural cleanser as it moves out of the ear, and tests have shown it has antibacterial and antifungal properties.” You just have to be careful not to have too much earwax, especially as you get older, when excessive earwax can cause hearing loss or ringing in the ears.
Your Feet Are Covered in Callouses = Your Circulation Is Good
A thick layer of callous on the bottom of your feet doesn’t just show that you’ve walked plenty of miles by the time you hit your 40s—it may also reflect healthy feet, according to Barbara Bergin, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. “A thick layer of callous on the bottom your feet is a sign that your feet are healthy and you have good circulation,” she told Bustle. “It protects the bottom of your foot from injury, because the natural human being would be running around barefooted.”
Your Eyes Move Around When You Sleep = You Sleep Like a Baby
Though you would not notice this yourself (since you’d be asleep), your partner might notice that your eyes are darting around a lot while you’re deeply in slumber. That may look a bit odd, but it’s a sign that you’re sleeping deeply, and well into your REM cycle. As you age, you can naturally have more difficulty getting a good night’s sleep, so if you’re getting regular dips into REM, that’s something to be pleased with.
You’re Less Mentally Sharp = You Aren’t Eating Enough Fish
As soon as your brain reaches maturity, in your late 20s, it begins losing neurons. By the time you reach your 60s, the brain has already begun to shrink. It’s no wonder, then, why many people in their 40s have already noticed their brain power dulling. Reaction times slow, along with speech, and reasoning skills begin their decline. There are a number of tactics for boosting brain cells, from getting plenty of sleep to reducing stress, but a quick and easy one is to up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which is found in fish, walnuts, seeds and leafy vegetables.
You’re Sore For Longer = You Don’t Get Enough Protein
If you find your body is taking longer to recover after exercise, you should probably incorporate more protein into your diet. The truth is, muscle wounds are just going to be more difficult to heal the older you get. Changing hormones, slowed biochemical reactions, and weakened muscles all contribute to slow recovery time. It’s nothing to worry about, though muscle recovery should be factored into any exercise regimen; overworking your body will only do more harm than good once you reach middle age.
You Shed Eyelashes = You’re Overdoing It On the Makeup
The follicles that produce eyelashes work the same way as the follicles that produce hairs all over the body. So, just like hair tends to thin out with age, so do lashes. Hormonal changes can lead to smaller eyelash follicles and even lead some to stop producing eyelashes at all. But just as often, lost eyelashes in women may be due to allergies to the cosmetic products they are using or the way they are applying it. And to learn what products to totally avoid, check out these 30 Cosmetics No Woman Over 40 Should Ever Buy.
Your Upper Teeth Ache = Your Sinuses Are Stuffed
While aching teeth is most often a sign of tooth decay, and cavities are more common in mature adults than in young people, sometimes tooth discomfort is the result of non-dental causes. If you have a sinus infection or congestion, it can lead to your teeth feeling more sensitive than usual. That’s especially true of upper teeth, located directly under your sinus cavities where pressure can be felt in particular.
Your Tongue Has Become Pale = You Need Iron
If you spot that, instead of the usual pink, your tongue is a weak-looking pale, it might be that you are suffering from an iron deficiency, a common occurrence among those who get older. You can treat it, and get your tongue back to a nice pink color, by adding an iron supplement to your diet or by eating more foods that are high in iron, such as spinach, tofu, and broccoli.
You’re Shorter Than You Were a Decade Ago = You Need Calcium
You’re Sick Less Often Than You Used to Be = Your Immunity Is Stronger
One of the upsides of aging is that, over time, your body becomes immune to certain viruses—most notably, the common cold! There are over 200 viruses that cause the cold. By the time you reach middle age, your body has been exposed to many of these viruses so many times that it has learned to resist them. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the flu virus, which mutates year after year. And if you’re still getting sick, check out the 23 Worst Things You Can Do if You Have a Cold.
Your Mouth Tingles When You Eat = You May Be Developing a Late-Life Allergy
“But I’ve eaten shellfish and peanuts my whole life!” you probably are saying. Sorry, but, according to the Mayo Clinic, adult-onset food allergies are not all that uncommon, particularly when it comes to types of food such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish and, yes, shellfish. As your immune system declines with age, allergies may surface—or resurface. And for more hidden allergens, check out the 23 Weirdest Things You Can Be Allergic To.
Your Toenails Are Turning Yellow = You May Have Respiratory Issues
In addition to becoming more brittle, toenails change color over time. They grow thinker and take on a yellow hue, which may be disconcerting but is usually nothing to worry about. Sometimes, though not often, yellow toenails can also be symptomatic of a respiratory disease. In the case of yellow nail syndrome, you should have your doctor check you for chronic cough and bronchiectasis. Yellow nail syndrome is usually inherited and is incredibly rare. Chances are, if your nails are turning yellow, it’s most likely just a sign of aging. And for more ways to make the most of your health, steal these 100 Anti-Aging Secrets for Looking and Feeling Younger Than Ever.
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