Health Matters: Look Ahead and Thwart Age

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 Stress can significantly upsurge age-related (chronic) diseases which are the most deadly threats to health in America. Seventy percent of all American deaths and 92% of deaths in people over 65 years are from those diseases. Cures are directly related to how advanced the disease is when treatment begins, which should emphasize the importance of early recognition. 

I do not want to alarm anyone excessively. Although, I strongly believe that in important matters, if one errs, it should be on the side of carefulness. What I am classifying as alerts are warning signs that possibly indicate manifestations of treatable diseases. It is wise to recognize and scrutinize all alerts your body dispatches. 

 Note your general well-being daily. What is your energy level? Are you feeling more tired lately? Are you requiring more sleep? We all have intermingled good days and bad days, but when a pattern of decreasing energy becomes obvious, it indicates a major change in our body. Investigate any change in functioning. 

 Everyone should weigh themselves regularly. Unintended changes in weight are real red flags. Gains and especially unintended losses of over 5% within several months should result in a doctor visit. Especially during such times, it is wise to monitor blood pressure. Automatic BP monitors are reasonably priced and easy to use. 

Pain is our most common beacon of protection. Pain notifies us we have an injury or are being injured, and it also makes us withdraw and rest the injured part until it has recovered. Pain is unpleasant and teaches us to avoid behavior that could be harmful. 

 Going to see a doctor for pain is so obvious, you probably wonder why I would mention it. Well, there are several types of pain, which are regularly misunderstood as innocent when not. A good example is back pain located in the flanks—this is likely not spinal; it can be from kidney disease and needs to be checked. 

 Likewise, upper abdominal pain that radiates to the back often is an abdominal problem not a back problem. Newly onset back pain (or any pain) that continues for over a week should be evaluated. 

Everyone knows heart pain, termed angina, is life-threatening. Most don’t know that, in a substantial number, angina is atypical; it may appear as indigestion or jaw pain. In others, about a third, it may be silent. When exerting, if you note extra beats or shortness of breath, get checked out. 

Headaches are another common source of pain. One should become concerned when new recurring headaches begin in older adults, especially if severe enough to suspend daily activities. Headaches brought on with exertion or emotional stress should be investigated. Headaches located on one side of the head rather than general are worrisome. Sudden onset of the worst headache ever should prompt a call to 911. It could signal a weakened artery about to rupture. 

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