Symptoms are the way your body tells you there is a problem. Some symptoms are obvious, and most of us know what they mean. Crushing chest pain = heart attack, fever = infection, and excessive thirst = diabetes. However, as we age our bodies change. Part of that changing process is that you may experience illness different as well.
There are some subtle symptoms that should not go unnoticed. Also there are some symptoms that you may think is the precursor to something that it is not. For instance, some people my think that confusion or memory loss is the first signs of dementia. And it very well may be, but it could also be caused by stress, infection, thyroid disease, adverse effects of certain medications or vitamin deficiency.
Everyone ages differently. Some more slowly than others. The aging process can be excellerated by disease or living an unhealthy lifestyle. Here are 5 conditions that can cause overlooked subtle symptoms that need medical attention.
We usually associate a high temperature and fever with infection. A fever is caused by an immune system response that’s meant to send fighting cells to take care of the invading virus or bacteria. As we age this response usually weakens, which means an older person can actually be quite ill but not show signs of a significant rise in temperature. Also, the older we get, our basal temperature can drop so what seems to be a slight fever can actually be a pretty big rise. Signs of overall fatigue and the decline in the ability to keep up with the routines of life, confusion, and impaired muscle function, leading to falls could all be signs of an oncoming infection.
Type 2 Diabetes
The older person may not show signs of thirst or excessive urination. High blood sugar in diabetics will often show in signs of disorientation. Dehydration will mask the signs of excessive urination. The eyes may look sunken and the skin may feel hot and dry. Yeast and fungal infections can occur and ulcers of the skin may not heal very well, if at all.
Hyprothyroidism is commonly characterized by fatigue or hoarseness of the voice, but these may be missing or misread in the older person. The subtle symptoms of this disease in older people can be muscle weakness, heart palpitations and depression.
Depression in older people is often more common than not, for many different reasons. But older adults don’t usually complain about it as much and it may go unnoticed by others if the person lives alone. Other physical symptoms of depression may be headaches, muscle pains, stomach upset, extreme tiredness, and weightloss.
Chest pains are almost always associated with an ensuing heart attack. But some older people may only experience some minor discomfort. The subtle symptoms to look for are rapid breathing, jaw pain, confusion, fatigue, light headedness or anxiety attacks.
Subtle symptoms may be dismissed as a part of aging. Even by well meaning doctors. But if you experience any of these subtle symptoms and are concerned there might be something to it, be sure to discuss them with your doctor right away.
Sources: 100 Most Common Medical Blunders – 2007 Edition