When it comes to our health, we tend to be hypersensitive in noticing fluctuations in how we feel or changes in our body. We will typically notice a new mole or spot on our arm, or recognize the tickle of a sore throat in its earliest stages.
When something unusual happens, we’re even more likely to notice it and wonder what it means. Most of the time, these odd symptoms are harmless, but sometimes, they could be an indication of an underlying issue. Brickmont Assisted Living encourages a healthy, proactive lifestyle, so we’re discussing some symptoms that are a little strange, but could be the warning sign of an underlying health condition. As always, it is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional should you notice any new symptoms or changes in your health.
Are You Losing Your Sense of Smell?
Nothing smells better than fresh chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, or a calming lavender candle soothing the room. What if, though, one day you notice that you can’t smell these enjoyable scents anymore? While losing your sense of smell is not only alarming and disappointing (for good smells, at least!), it can also be linked to a more serious health concern. Studies have shown that losing your ability to smell could be an early warning sign of dementia as “the sense of smell is closely connected with brain function and health (Jayant Pinto, MD).”
However, just because your sense of smell may be weakening doesn’t necessarily mean you have, or will have, dementia. The inability to smell is also simply an indicator of aging. As we grow older, our sense of smell— just like our sense of vision or hearing—can decrease, making it harder to identify those familiar smells of cookies or lavender.
Are Your Ankles Swollen?
Noticing that your ankles or legs are swollen can be concerning, especially since you’ve been feeling healthy and can’t remember tripping or doing anything that would have caused an injury.
Excessive swelling in the ankles and legs is a common problem for older adults. This condition is called edema and occurs when an excess of fluid in your body builds up in the legs and ankles, causing swelling and puffiness. Usually, edema is nothing to worry about, but sometimes it can be a sign of an underlying health condition.
Heart complications can cause a reduction in blood flow, causing blood to build up in the tissues furthest from the heart (legs or ankles). Alternatively, however, swollen ankles can be a sign of inactivity or being immobile for long periods of time. If you’re experiencing swollen ankles, talk with your healthcare provider about whether they could be caused by lifestyle or an undetected condition.
Is Your Skin Itchy?
Everyone knows how irritating itchy skin can be. Having an itch every now and then is expected, but if you feel an overwhelming itching sensation for days or weeks at a time, there could be a more serious condition at play. There is some evidence that suggests chronic itching can be a sign of liver disease, and the intense urge to itch is caused by the body’s inability to process bile.
Of course, it’s important to note that itchy skin is a prevalent complaint among older adults. As we age, certain changes in our skin make us more susceptible to dry, itchy skin. Usually, these skin changes can easily be managed with topical skin treatments and creams.
Are You Getting Shorter?
In most cases, losing height is a normal sign of aging; it’s not unusual to lose 1-2 inches by age 70. However, losing up to 4 inches in height is not a normal consequence of aging, and could indicate an undetected health condition—most likely osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition that weakens the bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and breaks. In its earliest stages, osteoporosis can show no symptoms, but over time a person with osteoporosis will get noticeably shorter due to potential collapses in the vertebrae. Fortunately, osteoporosis can be easily diagnosed, managed, and even prevented, so recognizing the early signs can be extremely beneficial. If you do find that you’re getting considerably shorter over time, speak with your doctor about osteoporosis.
More often than not, experiencing new and unusual symptoms is no cause for concern. Sometimes, however, these unexpected symptoms can be a warning sign for underlying health concerns. It can be valuable to recognize these symptoms and connections, and always notify your healthcare provider of any changes you may be experiencing.