Let's Be Careful Out There: Falls Prevention for Elders
INTERESTING STUFF – 21 September 2013

Old People Sneeze More and Other Weird (or Annoying) Age Changes

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


Goodness, there's a couple of things I don't want....like bigger feet. I have trouble getting shoes big enough now. The rest sounds about right tho.

I learned that my throat clearing when I laid down at night (that I thought was post nasal drip or my allergies) was actually acid reflux. No heartburn or other symptoms. Between the allergies, reflux and my age, I feel like I'm constantly clearing my throat these days!

Getting old is an adventure.

i think I will eventually be one big seborrhoeic keratosis, if I live long enough.

Yes, inded, Kenju! Only last week I went on line to look up the toad-like encrustations on my torso and found the very article quoted here.

What I have found strange as I've aged...we all have one foot, hand, boob, ear, eye etc., bigger than the other. And I am experiencing an even wider discrepancy. Now, if only I can find a bra with one FF and one G cup!

I'm still pissed about the mustache....the one that is getting darker & darker.....the nagging little cough is a pain, too. It's from medication I take for high BP that I need to get my dr. to change. Bah! Humbug! Dee

I think "long in the tooth" is because the gum tissue shrinks. I'm with the moles and clearing throat.

I am a woman whose voice apparently is getting deeper, judging by how often customer service-type people call me "sir" on the phone.

Having moved around the city (7x) fairly often in my 20+ years out here, I've discovered WHERE I live has made a big difference in my post-nasal dripiness. For the past four years, I haven't lived right on top of a big Metro-type bus line or in a place that allows CATs, and my PND is mostly gone. I'm of course getting older all along, too. Major improvement!!

I occasionally have to wipe a bit of saliva from the outer corner of my mouth, the obvious result of that ever-increasing downward "marionette" crease. Embarrassing! I guess I should try to smile more to keep those corners turned up!

The one I didn't know about was "posterior vitreous detachment" which occurs earlier in your 50s to myopic people and later for the rest. You can be scrubbing the floor or doing yoga and all of a sudden think you have experienced a detached retina, it's like a sac of jello in your eyeball that collapses. If you are lucky like me you are left with permanent eye floaters that look like fish eggs moving across your field of vision and you have those for life. You will be told there is nothing you can do about it and just learn to live with it.

Feet that keep getting bigger -- that seems to be the main physical symptom of my aging. In the fall of 2011 I was comfortable in a men's 11 athletic shoe (mighty large already as I'm a woman.) Since then I've had to move up to a 12! I learned this the hard way by destroying a big toenail -- all because I couldn't believe that my feet had grown so much so fast. I sure hope all the ligaments, etc., have now stretched as much as they are able ...

Thanks, Ronni, for this article and link. I was sort of planning my own funeral ( I AM a hypochrondriac!) due to the problem with post nasal drainage that is just sticky and clear. Clear, clear, clear my throat until everybody around me is alarmed. Warm drinks help....antihistamines help...and also Gas X helps. Of course nothing cures! Now I have taken up gargling and gargling warm water and that clears it up completely (for about an hour).
Oh, dear. The noises of the old. Nothing speaks "old" like bodily noises that we never had before!
Your article helped me make it through the day. Thanks again.

Thanks for this Ronni. I think it was George Carlin who said that now that he was old his bathroom now smelled like his own (deceased) aging parents had been in it.

I carry a couple of cough drops in my right front pocket every day. Sometimes my voice suddenly gets scratchy and weak, and they help a lot.

Re. PVDs. I got these in both eyes, a few months apart, when I was 71. Scared me until eye specalist gave me the all clear. Some of the symptoms are indeed similar to a retinal detach. Symptoms gradually became less obvious over a few months. Can still drive.

Just turned seventy terror horror what now?However reading articles here Im slowly coming to terms with it. I have a few of the symptoms mentioned! Biggest prob I will be a very old granny literally and metaphorically!

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