Subtle symptoms you shouldn’t ignore

Health

It’s normal to occasionally experience minor aches and ailments. But if you have persistent symptoms that are new to you, don’t be too quick to chalk them up to getting older.

Here are five that could be red flags for your health—plus the condition each could be a sign of:

  1. Forgetfulness. Whether it’s a momentary mental block or general absentmindedness, there are plenty of normal aspects of forgetfulness that come with age. But if you are becoming lost in familiar places, forgetting steps to everyday tasks, or if friends and loved ones notice that you are repeating the same questions and stories more often, you should speak to your doctor, as these could be signs of dementia or other cognitive problems.
  2. Thirst. Some days you need a little more to drink than others. But excessive thirst paired with more frequent urination may be a sign of diabetes, which affects more than 27 million Americans. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, don’t wait for your next physical to talk to your doctor—early detection and treatment of diabetes can help you better manage the disease. 
  3. Hair loss. A thinning head of hair is hardly uncommon as you grow older. But hair loss, especially if it is in an unusual pattern, can be a sign of an autoimmune disorder, hormone changes, or anemia, as well as other conditions. One that is more likely to occur in women over 60 is hypothyroidism, which means your thyroid gland is not making enough hormones. Symptoms can also include constant tiredness, loss of appetite, and brittle fingernails. So if you’re noticing unusual or sudden hair loss, speak to your doctor. 
  4. Fuzzy vision. If the reading glasses you picked up at the local pharmacy aren’t quite cutting it anymore, you may want to see your eye doctor. A typical symptom of age-related macular degeneration, a common cause of vision loss in people older than 50, is a blurred area near the center of your vision. While this condition may progress gradually, it can also do so rapidly, which is why it’s important to speak to your doctor about small changes sooner rather than later.  
  5. Fatigue. It’s normal to not have the same level of energy you had decades ago, but constant fatigue is not a part of aging. If you’re feeling tired all of the time and have difficulty with everyday activities, it could be an early sign of heart failure or other health issues. Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor about your fatigue. If heart failure is found early, it could help make the treatment easier and more effective.
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