I am probably as far as you can get from being a hypochondriac. I am much more likely to ignore some important health signal that turns up than I am to worry or run to a doctor about it.
That said, for the better part of the past year, I have noticed that I need to clear my throat frequently. It comes and goes and for the past several weeks, it's been gone but that's happened before and the need returned.
I occasionally wonder if I should ask a doctor about it, but I forget so I was relieved this week to read:
”The number of glands that secrete mucus around the vocal cords to lubricate them start to decrease as we get older. The lack of mucus irritates the throat, triggering a tendency to clear the throat more often.”
That's according to an ear, nose and throat surgeon named John Rubin quoted in news.com.au.
Since I figure old Australians probably aren't much different from old Americans or Canadians or Germans, etc., I think we should all learn about the explanations for these minor irritations and ailments that can afflict elders.
The story, titled, This is how you know you're getting old, tells us that just as we've always heard, our ears, nose and feet do get bigger:
”The ears are made up of cartilage, a flexible connective tissue which, unlike bones, continues to grow until we die. Cartilage also becomes thinner with age, causing the skin to stretch and sag, so the ears stretch down and the tip of the nose lengthens and droops.
“Meanwhile, our feet become longer and wider with age, as the tendons and ligaments that link the many tiny bones lose elasticity. This allows the toes to spread out and the arch of the foot to flatten.”
We also get more skin moles called seborrhoeic keratoses. They are common and harmless but do let your physician know about them just in case yours are something different.
That we tend to put on weight is not news nor that our voices can become weaker but did you know that men's voices get higher and women's lower?
”Around the age of 70, in men, the cartilage starts to thin and the joints between the pieces of cartilage in the vocal cords become more unstable," says the same Dr. Rubin...
“[In women] after the menopause, lack of [estrogen] can cause swelling in the vocal cords, which makes the voice sound much lower.”
news.com.au also tells us that our eyes get watery with age, we get drunk more quickly than when we were younger and our teeth “look” longer although they do not really get longer.
And, we are sneezing more (well, aging Australians are anyway) and although there are several theories about causes, there is no definitive answers yet.
Go read the whole story. It's both amusing and informative.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Roy