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Effects of Aging on your body
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How stress affects your body
Sex after fifty
Age related sex problems
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An Asprin-A-Day
Learn about cholestrol
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Effects of walking on the heart
Effects of swimming on the heart
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Home >> Effects Of Aging On Your Body  
 

 Effects Of Aging On Your Body


Physiological aging refers to the changes in structure and functioning of the body that occur over a lifespan. Many of these changes are involuntary and occur very gradually while others occur over a short period. Following are the descriptions of some of the physiological changes that normally occur. Note down the steps that can be taken to counteract some of them.

  EFFECTS ON THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

Some changes that may occur in the cardiovascular system are a decrease in the elasticity of the blood vessels and heart valves, restricted blood flow due to the thickening of the vessel walls and because of the fatty deposits lining the vessels, and a decrease in the ability of the heart to pump out as much blood with each beat. As a result, you may feel fatigued, become short of breath more easily and have less capacity for physical exertion.

To counteract some of these effects, maintain a normal weight, exercise regularly, stop smoking, reduce salt, sugar and fatty foods in your diet. If you do this, you will be able to tolerate natural changes more easily and still live a normal life, as well as help to deter the development of heart disease.

  EFFECTS ON THE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM

Decreased elasticity of the lungs may occur with aging. This may affect your lung's ability to utilize oxygen, as well as your ability to cough and take deep breaths. You may be more prone to fatigue and shortness of breath on exertion, and become more susceptible to infections.

Once again, a regular exercise program and quitting smoking will help. Also ask a health adviser about diaphragmatic breathing. You can use these techniques to increase your lung capacity more efficiently.

  EFFECTS ON THE MUSCULAR SYSTEM

There tends to be a gradual loss of muscle tone, elasticity and strength. In some areas, the muscle is often replaced with fatty tissue leaving you with little rolls or soft, flabby spots. But what is more significant is that your endurance or strength to perform certain tasks may also decrease.

A balanced diet and regular exercise may improve muscle tone and strength. Adapt to decreased muscle strength and endurance and do not try to do everything yourself and give yourself more time to accomplish a task.


  EFFECTS ON THE SKELETAL SYSTEM

The skeletal system gradually changes over the years until it is porous and brittle, as the bones lose calcium and also their density. This may be more pronounced in women. As a result, you may become more prone to fractures, notice a decrease in height or even develop a stoop in your posture.

To retard this process, eat a diet high in calcium and vitamin D. Ask your doctor whether you would benefit from calcium and vitamin D supplements. Also, moderate amounts of exercise such as walking and exercising on a stationary bicycle are helpful and prove to be very enjoyable.

  EFFECTS ON THE METABOLIC SYSTEM

There may be a gradual decline in the activity of the thyroid gland, as well as decline in the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin. As a result, there is a decrease in the body's ability to use fats and sugars and to convert them into energy. You may note an increase in weight, an increased blood sugar level when you go to the doctor, who may tell you that you have adult onset diabetes. You may find a decrease in energy as well as decrease in your ability to handle stress.

Reduce your caloric intake, avoid junk food, reduce your sugar and fat intake, and exercise regularly.

  EFFECTS ON THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

The digestive tract is a very resilient system, but there are some changes that occur which may cause you some distress. There is a gradual slowing of the system as well as a decrease in the secretion of saliva and enzymes which are necessary for digestion. As a result, there may be problems with indigestion, elimination and adequate absorption of nutrients.

Eat a balanced diet, high in fibre and fluids. Avoid eating heavy meals. In fact, small, frequent meals eaten slowly enhance the digestive process.

  EFFECTS ON THE NEUROLOGICAL SYSTEM

What happens here is, the messages take a slightly longer time to pass from the nerves to the muscles, and the muscles take a slightly longer time to react to these messages. So take this into consideration while doing things that require a quick response. Also, there may be a decrease in the perception of pain and an increase in the time to react to it. This may seem like a blessing at times; after all, it would be nice for injuries and aches not to hurt so much. Problems may arise, however, if you put off going to the doctor for something that hurts you because it does not seem too bad.

Become attuned to your body and what you are feeling and have anything unusual checked out by a doctor. There is also a change in the wake-sleep cycle. You may find yourself not sleeping as much at night. This may be nothing to worry about. You may sometimes need to rest during the day and need less, deep sleep at night.

  EFFECTS ON THE GENITO-URINARY SYSTEM

The ability of the kidneys to filter and reabsorb may also decrease. Also, men show a tendency towards prostate enlargement while women have hormonal changes that may cause vaginal itching and burning, making intercourse uncomfortable. Frequent check-up and contact with your doctor when symptoms appear are important.

  EFFECTS ON THE SENSORY SYSTEM

There is a gradual decrease in the overall sensual acuity of the body. Your sense of touch is decreased, as is your ability to hear some high-pitched sounds. You may notice a decrease in the ability to smell and a loss of some of the sweet and salty taste buds. The lenses of your eyes lose some of their ability to accommodate, so you may find yourself reading at arm's length. The size of the pupil also decreases, sometimes making it harder to adapt to dim light. There may also be a yellowing of the lens, and decrease in colour perception.

Simply ask people to speak slower and in a lower tone. Add colour, variety, and seasonings besides salt to your food to make your meals more appealing. Decreasing the glare while increasing the light helps you to see more clearly. If colour differentiation has become a problem or if things look rather dull, try adding touches of bright colours, such as oranges and reds to your home and wardrobe.

  EFFECTS ON THE HAIR, SKIN AND FACE

Turning grey is one of the most obvious changes that occur with age. Most people past thirty express some dissatisfaction if not dismay with what is happening to their hair. Amongst men and women, the hair begin to grey in the late twenties and thirties. Almost everyone has grey hair by the age of forty, although, as with every other aspect of aging, there are distinct variations within the family and ethnic groups. One possibility is to dye your hair with one of the safe, vegetable based dyes or rinses now available in the market. This is preferred to aniline (coal tar) based dyes, as prolonged use over the years may cause bladder cancer or leukaemia.

In addition to the greying process, a small percentage of men are subject to baldness. This tendency is passed on genetically from father to son. It occurs in the son because of the production of testosterone, the male sex hormone. Another type of baldness is thinning of hair. Certain hair restoration products including minoxidil, which is also used to control blood pressure are available to control the above. Various implant procedures are also available.

As the skin ages, the various layers tend to lose their ability to retain fluids, and there may also be a loss of some of the fatty deposits under the skin. It also loses some of its elasticity. As a result, the skin may become wrinkled, dry and easily bruised. To minimize these effects, avoid direct sunlight and use a moisturizing cream. The outlook for the development of 'beauty products' that will help cover wrinkles or add the blush of youth seems unlimited. The recent development of a vitamin A related agent, Retin-A, applied to the skin over the course of months, increases the blood supply, results in a flush and thickens the aging skin. Most of the changes in the face and skin that occur with aging are natural and normal and are not cause for worry. But if you become dissatisfied with the way you look and you want to 'help' nature a little bit, there are a number of medical possibilities, one of them being cosmetic sugery.

 
 
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