We live in an era that is redefining what it means to age. Only just fifty years ago, many of the accepted signs of aging, like wrinkles, weight gain, diseases like heart disease and osteoporosis, or memory loss were chalked up to the progression of time. Many people figured there was little that could be done to halt, much less reverse them, boosting the philosophy that if you can’t laugh about it, what else is there to do?
Today, our view on aging has changed significantly. We now know that many of the “accepted” physical symptoms of aging can be slowed and even halted. Diseases of aging can be prevented. And now, new evidence shows that what were once the punchlines to many an aging joke might actually be clues that something far more sinister is going on.
Aging symptom #1: Frequent Urination. It’s the subject of many jokes about aging: the need to stop whatever is happening every few minutes to visit the restroom. In fact, there’s a whole industry built on the need for older people to find solutions for when they have to use the bathroom (adult undergarments, new medications, etc.) However, having to relieve yourself frequently when it’s never been a problem before could point to a larger issue.
Aging symptom #2: Hearing Loss. You’ve seen the cartoons of older people who mishear everything, or who simply tune out of entire conversations. This is a joke most people will chuckle at because of an older relative or friend who fits the bill. However, hearing loss can also occur because of damaged blood vessels and nerves caused by poor circulation.
Aging symptom # 3: Poor Eyesight. Older people may joke that they can’t read or drive anymore without their glasses, but they can’t remember where they placed their glasses, either. However, just like hearing loss, a decline in vision could also be the result of poor circulation causing damage to the lens of your eye, leading to trouble focusing.
Aging Symptom # 4: Lack of Energy. Is just looking at kids and younger people making you tired? It’s not because you have been here more years than they have. If you are eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and keeping your stress level down, there’s no reason to feel fatigued, grumpy, or irritable. There could be something else going on if you can never seem to feel awake and refreshed. When you eat, your body converts the food into energy (fuel) for your body to use to perform necessary functions and to help you power through your day. When the body isn’t taking the substances it needs for fuel out of circulation and getting it to the cells, it instead dumps it out of the body when you urinate. When this occurs, cells are never getting the fuel they need!
By now it’s clear that these once chuckle-inducing signs of aging are really no laughing matter. So what’s the underlying culprit that may cause all of the above symptoms?
Type 2 (formerly “Adult Onset”) Diabetes. When the body isn’t able to use glucose, it either stores the excess as fat or dumps it out of the body. This perpetual cycle can take a long time to develop into diabetes, sometimes many years, but when it does, it can show up as symptoms that are often chalked up to aging . . . but shouldn’t be. If you find that you’re abnormally tired, experiencing loss of vision or hearing, are inexplicably needing to urinate frequently yet are always thirsty, and are experiencing numbness or tingling in your fingers, toes, hands or feet, your best bet is to get to the doctor’s for a checkup.
A doctor’s visit can show that one person’s idea of “just getting old” could actually be the symptoms of a serious health condition. Serious, but highly treatable without medicine. A healthy diet, regular exercise, sleep, and paying attention to how your body looks and feels could mean that more extreme methods of treatment won’t be necessary. So while it’s okay to see the humor in life, getting any health issues checked out is a must, because gambling with health and longevity is no laughing matter!