Looking After Your Health in Middle Age

We tend to think of health problems as being more of an issue for older people rather than the young. If you’re in between, you probably don’t want to dwell on the fact that you’re closer to old age than you’ve ever been; and there’s really no need to! Middle age is not the slippery slope to infirmity, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t lead a healthy and productive life well into old age. The key to maintaining your well-being is to be aware of the changes that do accompany the middle years, so you can take good care of yourself and enjoy a full and rewarding life.

Menopause

Unless you were unfortunate enough to be one of the few women to experience early menopause, then between forty-five and fifty-five you will go through this inevitable biological change. Your periods will become less regular – sometimes more frequent, then reducing in number until they stop altogether. This process can take a couple of years or sometimes longer to be completed, and because the levels of hormones in your body will be fluctuating and then reducing, you may also suffer from other side effects:

* Hot flashes: A rush of intense heat, like stepping into a hot shower or jumping into a freshly drawn bath. Hormones control the heat regulation in your body, and when their levels become disrupted, it can lead to these periods of over-heating. They can be brief, or prolonged, and you may get them frequently or just occasionally. They aren’t anything to be concerned about, but they can be uncomfortable, and you may feel embarrassed if you are out when you get them. Don’t let this worry you; it’s very unlikely anyone will notice when you have a hot flush. Having water to hand, a cooling spray or wipes, and taking steps to minimize the effects of sweating that often accompany hot flushes should ensure that whoever you’re with remains oblivious to the event.

* Dry skin and thinning hair: Hormones also affect the skin and hair, so you may start noticing your skin needs more moisturizer, or your hair starts looking and feeling a little limp. Invest in some beauty treatments that are designed for your skin type and age to deal with the effects, and make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet to nourish your hair and skin from within.

* Mood swings and emotional upsets: It’s well known that hormones have an effect on mood and emotions, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling weepy sometimes, or down for no apparent reason. You might also be more irritable, or quicker to anger. All these effects are down to your hormone levels fluctuating and should recede once the menopause is finished. Meanwhile, be kind to yourself, take time to relax and treat yourself, and make sure your nearest and dearest understand why your behavior might not be what they are used to from you.

If your menopausal symptoms are negatively affecting your life, are hard to live with, or painful and uncomfortable, you can find out about HRT and whether you would be suitable for a course of treatment. There are options which will suit most women, and you can have your hormone therapy questions answered by specialists in the field to help you make an informed choice.

Diet and exercise

Just because you’ve reached middle age doesn’t mean you need to change your lifestyle, if you’re already exercising regularly and eating well. If you have been neglecting your health as the young often do because they have the resilience of youth on their side, now’s the time to get into some better habits so you can be strong and healthy going forward. There are a few considerations you need to think about, for example, if you are getting joint pain from running on the roads, make sure your footwear is giving you enough support and cushioning from the concussion. If the problem persists, change to a softer surface, or reduce the running and take up a different activity. You don’t need to stop altogether, as exercise will do you far more good than harm in most cases. You might want to consider having a blood test to make sure you have the right levels of vitamins and minerals in your diet, as deficiencies can affect your health and well-being.

Taking notice of changes in your body

Whilst you shouldn’t be obsessive about your health if you do notice changes of any kind you should get them checked out. Make sure you are in the habit of giving yourself a monthly breast examination so you can spot any changes in the breast tissue or lumps that have formed. If you have moles that are growing or changing they should be checked out, and any new pains or unpleasant sensations you feel in any part of your body should be checked too. Feeling short of breath, exhausted, physically weak, or a loss of appetite also merit a visit to the doctor. In most cases, these symptoms will be benign and treatable, so try not to feel anxious or fear the worst. If you should need treatment for something more serious, then the earlier you spot it, the better your prognosis.

Mental well-being

Entering middle age can bring many benefits to your life, including freedom and opportunities that you are better able to deal with because of your life experience. It should be a wonderful time for you, with lots to look forward to, but some women do find themselves feeling down and depressed for various reasons. Leaving your fertile years behind, not having children to care for, or wondering what you are going to do with your life can all make you feel low, so if you do find yourself struggling with life or being unhappy, take some action to find help. Being active, challenging yourself and leading a full life will all help your mind and brain stay healthy, but if you find you aren’t coping for any reason, see your doctor or find someone to talk to.

Entering middle age is nothing to fear, in fact, it is the start of a whole new chapter in your life that could be the most rewarding one yet; so make the most of your middle years by looking after your health and wellbeing.

Thanks to Zaklina

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