Turning 50 may bring feelings of dread and conjure up images of a sharp decline in body functions. If so, then this article will probably not be reassuring. Not to worry; your fifties can be a healthy decade. Furthermore, some studies suggest that your later decades can be among your happiest. Even so, after the age of 50, you may be more susceptible to certain diseases and disorders that did not plague you in your youth. Here are 13 medical conditions to watch out for so that you can seek medical attention and continue to enjoy your later years.
13. Brain Aneurysm
A brain aneurysm occurs when blood builds up in a vessel of the brain. As the blood vessel strains to contain the excess blood, it is at risk of rupturing, creating bleeding in the brain. A ruptured brain aneurysm is a grave, potentially deadly emergency. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a brain aneurysm include a sudden, severe headache, nausea, a stiff neck, and visual disturbances. Risk factors for an aneurysm include advanced age, smoking, high blood pressure, and drug or alcohol abuse.
12. Fragile Bones
Weakened bones are a condition that can accompany advancing age. Osteoporosis is a disorder in which the body no longer manufactures enough healthy bone or suffers a loss of bone tissue. As your bones become weaker, they are more susceptible to breakage. You can help to keep your bones strong and healthy by exercising, consuming calcium, and getting plenty of vitamin D. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, or dancing can strengthen your bones. Exercises that strengthen the muscles around the bones also contribute to bone health.
11. Vision Problems
Many of the vision problems of your later years begin to show up in your late 40s or early 50s. Annual checkups with your ophthalmologist can help to catch vision problems in the early stages, before you suffer vision loss. Bausch and Lomb lists several disorders of the eye that may begin to afflict individuals in their 40s or 50s. These include diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment, and diabetic retinopathy. Other eye concerns that may strike in the later years are allergies, dryness, and nearsightedness.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that can strike at any time. Diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels become excessively high due to a lack of or decreased sensitivity to insulin. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are age, excessive weight, inactivity, and a family history of diabetes. Your doctor can order a blood test to determine whether you are prediabetic. Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite at diabetic levels. According to the CDC, more than 30% of adult Americans are prediabetic, and most of them do not realize it.
Hard deposits made up of cholesterol, bilirubin, or bile salts can form in your gallbladder. These masses, called gallstones, may be symptomless. In other instances, they may block your bile ducts, causing pain and inflammation. This is known as a gallbladder attack. Risk factors for gallstones include age, obesity, liver disease, and a family history of gallstones. The risk of painful gallbladder attacks can be decreased by maintaining a proper body weight, exercising, and consuming a fiber-rich diet.
Gout is an autoimmune disorder in which uric acid crystallizes in the joints, causing pain and inflammation. This disease is a type of arthritis. Symptoms include redness, swelling, heat, and stiffness in the joints. The big toe joint is often the first to fall victim to painful episodes of gout. However, gout can also affect the joints of the ankles, knees, wrists, and fingers. Foods that are high in purine may contribute to gout attacks. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you may be able to decrease your risk of a gout attack by avoiding certain foods.
7. Heart Disease
Once you reach the age of 50, you may start to focus more heavily on taking care of your ticker. Visit your doctor each year for a physical and to monitor for any signs of high blood pressure or heart disease. Normal blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to complications such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Commit to taking care of your heart by eating a nutritious diet and avoiding excess sugar, salt, and alcohol. Strengthen your heart by keeping your body active and moving.
6. Kidney Stones
Mineral deposits that develop in the kidney and calcify into solid masses are known as kidney stones. According to the Urology Care Foundation, the majority of kidney stones are made up of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Less commonly, kidney stones may be comprised of uric acid or magnesium ammonium phosphate. The extreme pain associated with kidney stones arises when a stone travels through the ureter from the kidney to the bladder. The risk of kidney stones can be decreased through proper diet, hydration, consuming appropriate amounts of calcium, and avoiding foods high in oxalates.
5. Pulmonary Embolism
A pulmonary embolism (PE) occurs when a blood clot, often developed in the leg, travels through the bloodstream and becomes trapped in the lung. Symptoms of this life-threatening condition can include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and coughing. Some blood clots form due to medical conditions. However, blood clots may also develop in individuals on long car rides or airplane flights. When traveling, make sure to take frequent breaks to move your body and stretch your legs. Additionally, keep your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Inflammation of the pancreas is called pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis is an inflammation that occurs over many years. Acute pancreatitis is a sudden condition that appears as abdominal pain, fever, rapid pulse, nausea, and vomiting. According to the Merck Manual, the most common causes of acute pancreatitis are gallstones and alcoholism. As with so many other disorders, the risk of pancreatitis can be decreased by consuming a healthy diet, engaging in physical exercise, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.
3. Spinal Stenosis
The risk of back pain and spinal disease also increases with age. Spinal stenosis is a constricting of the passageway between the discs of the spinal column. This may occur due to the wear and tear of aging. Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis may also contribute to stress and strain on the spine. As the space within the spinal column narrows, the nerves traveling through this space become compressed, causing pain. Visit your physician if you suffer from back pain. You may be able to achieve pain relief through medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.
A stroke is a condition in which blood flow to the brain is blocked or impeded. When this occurs, brain cells are deprived of much-needed oxygen. When a stroke occurs, immediate medical attention is of the utmost importance. The American Heart Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T. to help individuals recognize the signs of a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, Time to call 911. Some risk factors for stroke are beyond your control. Methods of decreasing your risk of stroke include keeping to a healthy weight, consuming nutritious foods, and keeping up with physical exercise.
1. Dizziness or Vertigo
Age-affiliated changes in your inner ear can cause you to feel dizzy or lose your balance. Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is dizziness caused by a buildup of calcium deposits in your inner ear. These deposits impair your sense of balance by interfering with signals between your inner ear and your brain. A second disorder, Meniere’s disease, is a condition in which excess fluid builds up in the inner ear. This fluid creates pressure on the nerves that affect your balance. If you suffer from vertigo, your doctor may prescribe medications or head movements that will help to relieve these symptoms.