“Forty is a good time to take a deep breath, and, although you have a lot of other things out there, do a little introspection and say, ‘OK, there are some things I need to do to make sure I stay healthy. Experts say that Age 40 is a milestone when the risk of many health conditions increases. This makes the birthday a perfect time for taking stock of your health. This is an important decade for preventing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer later in life. Recommendations for medical exams, screening procedures and routine tests in your 40s vary depending on your family history, your overall health and your personal risk factors.
Here are some health concerns that you may find yourself faced with in your 40s:-
Chronic pain—the risk for arthritis, back pain and other painful conditions like tendonitis increases with age. While you can’t do anything about the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated, you can take steps to reduce your risk for health problems caused by wear and tear and overuse.
Stress—while there’s no escaping many of the responsibilities that come with life in your 40s—career, finances, family obligations like caring for children and aging parents—you can prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. Take care of yourself—eat right, exercise, keep in touch with people who are important to you and find time to do things you enjoy. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week—physical activity can go a long way toward helping you manage your stress.
Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and homocysteine levels, resting heart rate—these indicators of heart health can tend to slowly creep upward as you get older, increasing your risk for several serious medical conditions, including heart attack and stroke. It’s important to follow your health care provider’s recommendations for monitoring these factors and keeping them within healthy levels through lifestyle measures and/or medication, if necessary.
Blood glucose—Diabetes is a significant health problem in the United States and risk for type 2 diabetes (the most common form of the disease) increases with age. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and about 14 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 64 have been diagnosed or have the disease but don’t know it.
Body mass index (BMI)—Chances are, you’ve watched the needle on the scale slowly inch up over the past several years—even if you try to eat healthily and exercise regularly. In addition to your BMI, which determines if your weight is within a healthy, overweight or obese range, your health care provider will also pay attention to your weight distribution. This measurement compares your waist size to your hip size and is used to help evaluate your risk for weight-related health problems.
Osteoporosis—Peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) gradually declines in your 40s and beyond, increasing your risk for osteoporosis—bone loss that can lead to fractures and other problems. After menopause, women are at even higher risk for this condition. A healthy diet and regular weight-bearing exercise, including strength training, can help prevent osteoporosis.
Anxiety and depression—It’s important to take care of your mental health in your 40s. Changes in mood are a normal part of life, but extreme anxiety, loss of interest and energy, an inability to experience pleasure, withdrawal from usual activities and interactions, and apathy toward important matters is not. Talk to your health care provider about mental health screening.
Men in their 40s may experience symptoms of testosterone deficiency, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate) or transient erectile dysfunction. Occasional impotence affects about 50 percent of men between the ages of 40 and 49. Although the average age of menopause is about 51.
Women in their 40s begin experiencing symptoms of perimenopause (e.g., hot flashes, irritability).
Skin problems—adult acne, sun damage, age spots and wrinkles—often concerns for 40-somethings. It’s important to keep your skin healthy, so contact a dermatologist if you have concerns. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever you’re in the sun—skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer in the United States.
Changes in vision and hearing loss are also relatively common problems for people in their 40s. You may find that you need glasses for the first time in your life, or that you need (gasp!) bifocal lenses—glasses designed for reading as well as distance—to see clearly. You also may notice that your senses of smell and taste are not as strong as they once were.
Digestive problems, including ulcers, are other conditions that are more common in people over the age of 40. Remember, when it comes to your health, you are your own best advocate. Speak up if you aren’t feeling your best.
Whether people have demanding jobs, aging parents, growing children or all of the above, it’s easy to put health aside. But 40 is the time to evaluate your well being, and to plan for the long-run.