Your 40th birthday comes with many gifts. The sudden realization that you are approaching middle age. Lots of aches and pains. Family change as kids get ready to head for college or even a late-in-life baby.
Part of the fun of 40 is the health issues, your body is aging, and systems are breaking down. Just in case you haven’t had enough presents, here are seven health symptoms that you need to watch out for.
Most of these symptoms have a number of possible causes, raging from the simple to the scary. If you notice number 3 or especially number five, you may need to see a doctor right away!
Chest pain signifies several health concerns. The scariest, least likely is a sudden severe ripping chest pain. You could be one of the lucky 3/100,000 people experiencing a torn aorta. Alternatively, you might be having a heart attack. If you think you are having a heart attack, you should probably call for help.
Most likely, you are experiencing acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease and your aging stomach valve is letting food and stomach acid into your throat.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Since most of us are trying to lose weight an unexpected weight drop is terrific. Until you realize it might have the big C. Losing more than 5% of body weight in six months should be investigated.
If it is not cancer, it might be a hyperactive thyroid. This usually comes with sweating and increased appetite. Extreme thirst and excessive peeing might signal diabetes. You might also have developed inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease. Or you might be depressed.
If you see blood where it shouldn’t be, you should talk to a doctor. GI disorders involve red or black (tarry) blood and could signify ulcers, colorectal cancers or hemorrhoids.
Unexpected vaginal bleeding ranges from cancer to benign fibroids. Bloody urine might be a bladder or kidney infection. Coughing or vomiting blood could be stomach, esophageal or lung cancer. On the other hand, you could have anything from bronchitis to tuberculosis.
The take home is to have unexpected bleeding checked out.
What does that stomachache mean? This symptom comes with a smorgasbord of possible causes. Constipated? Appendicitis? Gallstones? Could be. Or it could be an aortic aneurysm. Your aorta in your gut has ruptured and you really need to get to the doctor. Right now.
Or an ulcer ate through your stomach wall and you really need to go to the doctor. Right now. Or the blood flow to your intestines is cut off and you need to go to the doctor. Right now. Take your pick. And hope it is stomach flu.
You’ve probably lost family members to dementia. Sudden confusion is terrifying. Is it Alzheimer’s? Probably not. The greater chance is that you are having a stroke and you need to get to the doctor as quickly as possible. This comes with slurred speech and often weakness. Alternatively, it could be a brain tumor.
You might be experiencing an interaction between medications, have in infection, or be having an issue with blood pressure, low blood sugar or even dehydration. Sudden confusion should be checked out quickly.
Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath can indicate many conditions. Maybe it’s anxiety or emotional distress. It could be a lung infection like bronchitis or asthma.
Sudden shortness of breath could be a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lungs. Recent travel or surgery are frequent causes. If you have chest pain or cough up blood, call for help.
If you have problems doing normal activities – such as climbing a few stairs and you smoke or are at risk for heart disease, you should see a doctor.
Swelling in the Legs
Legs swell when you spend too much time on them. Swelling can be a sign of venous insufficiency. If a valve in a leg vein leaks, you’ll see one sided swelling often with reddish discoloration.
Bilateral swelling can be the sign of heart failure. If you have shortness of breath, chest tightness and swollen legs, talk to a doctor. Sometimes, swollen legs can be a sign of liver or kidney disease. Both these come with fatigue, weight gain and loss of appetite.
These seven symptoms are signs of aging and possibly impending death! Since you’ve hit forty, you should have a complete work-up so you can stop imagining the worse. It is very important that you take better care of your body – lose weight, stop smoking, cut way back on the drinking and late nights. Eat better and exercise.
You still have many years ahead of you and the better you take of yourself, the better those years will be. If you do experience odd bleeding, chest pain, or sudden pains or confusion, it is important that you talk to a doctor. All sarcasm aside, all these symptoms can be serious.