Most of us can agree that reaching 40, 50 or 60 years of age is an exciting turning point in our lives, but as is always the case when there’s lots of other distractions going on, it can be easy to forget to take care of health matters.
Whether it is an empty nest, taking care of ageing parents, or getting ready for retirement, many situations can take a toll on the body and it’s better to catch any potential problems early, rather than too late.
Which health issues should you consider talking over with a doctor after you have blown out the candles on your birthday cake?
Q: My libido has been low lately, I’m no longer interested in sex. Is something wrong with my health? What can I do about it?
A: Don’t forget that your doctor isn’t there to judge and they’ve heard it all (and much more!) before. For men, doctors can test testosterone and other hormone levels – which are often responsible from everything to a loss of interest in sex to unexplained weight gain and tiredness. Your doctor might recommend a sensible diet and exercise plan. Working out every morning ups your endorphins and in turn changes your entire day, because you feel happier and therefore less stressed. A benefit of regular exercise and a healthier diet is weight loss, which in turn will control cholesterol and high blood pressure, which can lead to trouble with erections, says The Cleveland Clinic. For women, menopause or thyroid issues can cause estrogen levels to drop; your doctor can check those levels and might also refer you to a hormone specialist.
Q: I think I’ve started menopause. What can I do to ease symptoms?
A lot of peri-menopause and menopausal symptoms like hot flushes, weepiness, mood-swings, irritation and sleep troubles can be eased and even eradicated completely with natural methods. Eating a diet which is not heavy in refined sugar, processed food and piles of stodgy, refined carbs, and is instead packed with vegetables, fruit, lean protein and legumes, potatoes and whole grains will help hugely. Acupuncture is wonderful for banishing hot flushes and it’s important to make hormone balance and a restful night’s sleep a priority. If a complete lifestyle makeover scares you, perhaps aim for 70:30 – which is being “good” 70% of the time and eating what you like for 30%. According to our calculations, that means you can hit the wine, chocolate and pizza at weekends then try and be a bit healthier in the week. Most importantly though: listen to your body. Many women agree that menopause is a wonderful landmark where they feel like a grown woman. So try to embrace it.
Q: How often should I get my blood pressure checked?
About one in three U.S. adults, or about 70 million people, have high blood pressure. But, only about half (52 percent) have that high blood pressure under control, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since high blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, it’s suggested that you get your blood pressure checked every two years. If the systolic (top) number is between 120 and 139 or the diastolic number (bottom) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg, then get it checked every year, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Q: Do I need a prostate cancer screening?
Fifty is a good time for men to start talking with their doctors about getting a prostate cancer screening says The American Cancer Society. Many put it off and then sadly don’t live to regret it, so definitely consider it. Knowing is always better than not knowing when it comes to getting medical tests.
Q: I’m not sleeping well. What can I do?
One in three American adults doesn’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, says the CDC. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults ages 18 to 60 get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Getting less sleep is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and more. Your doctor can discuss good sleep habits with you and getting on top of hormone balance and doing a total digital switch off an hour before bed (so, not TV, no surfing the internet and put away your smartphone) will help your brain get ready to unwind.
Q: Do I need a colon cancer screening?
You need to ask your doctor about colon cancer testing once you’ve hit fifty years old. They can advise a plan of action that will suit you best.
Q: How often should I get a mammogram?
The American Cancer Society says that women who are over forty should book in for regular mammograms, and your doctor can tell you how often to come after the first one. They’re honestly not all that uncomfortable and the relief of knowing what’s going on is well worth a few moments of mild discomfort.
Tell us in the comments; is anything health-related bothering you as you get older? Or do you feel better than ever? Any advice for our readers?