We’re getting older. All of us. No matter how young you are, you’re getting older. The signs are all around us. Our hair thins and grays, our voices start cracking, we sprout five inches in as many months, or we find our minds slipping.
Those are the obvious signs of growing up and growing old. That and realizing you need to get a job that provides insurance. Yet there are lesser known signs, and quite frankly some odd ones, that reveal how much we’re aging.
Ear, Nose, and Feet
This is a weirder fact that I did already know: your ears, nose, and feet never stop growing throughout your life. Cartilage, which makes up the ears and nose, continues to grow. It does, however, grow thinner so the ear and nose stretch and sag as a result.
With your feet, tendons and ligaments lose elasticity so their pulling power is reduced. The greater slack lets the toes stretch out and the arch in the foot to flatten. So be aware your shoe size might jump for no apparent reason.
Voice and Throat Issues
When you’re a boy going through puberty, one of the more embarrassing effects is constant voice cracking. But then you come out on the other side with a deeper voice. Well, it seems men are destined to come full circle: around age 70, men’s voices get higher in pitch.
As said before, cartilage doesn’t stop growing, but it does thin. This thinning weakens the vocal chords making a higher pitch. For women, the opposite occurs. After menopause, the hormonal changes cause the chords to swell, producing a deeper voice.
There’s more going on in the throat than that. Mucus glands start to decline in number, making the throat drier. The lack of lubricating mucus makes us clear our throats more often to knock loose some irritants that have become trapped.
Age Goes Up, Metabolism Goes Down
This may be the most dreaded sign of ageing: weight gain. It’s not just from less activity—although that certainly plays a role. As we climb passed age 50, our muscles decrease in size. This loss drags down our metabolism and pushes up our fat storage.
Another metabolism related effect—and one I’ve noticed and find hilarious—is greater ease in getting ‘tipsy.’ The liver loses speed in breaking down alcohol and the kidneys don’t expel it as quickly. The good news: if you’re a social drinker passed the age of 50, you’ll save money on fewer drinks.
Allergies from out of the Blue
Elderly people have an increased tendency of sneezing. The culprit seems to be the development of allergic rhinitis—the clinical way of saying a stuffy and runny nose. But why the late onset? Many never had reported any issues with allergies. Come middle age though and they’re sneezing at things left and right.
Some scientists believe this may be due to a weakened immune system. At the same time, allergies are the result of an overly sensitive immune system, not a weak one. Maybe the body’s defenses are just getting a little more protective in its advanced age.
Another allergy oddity is with soap. Ageing dries out the skin and the ability to retain moisture. Without this protective layer of moisture, the skin that usually isn’t exposed comes into contact with soap. Next thing you know, you find yourself having an allergic reaction.
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