Seven Red Flags You're Aging Fast

Is your body is sending you a message that diseases of old age are creeping up on you? Dr. Oz reveals 7 red flags that you could be aging too fast. Break out the measuring tape, a mirror and a little medical know-how, it's time for a self-exam.

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Jean Size

It is becoming plainly clear in the medical community that belly fat raises risks for many medical conditions, so if your jean size is creeping north, it is bad news. Abdominal fat is a major risk factor for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and death. But now there is another reason to worry. Adults who find their waistlines expanding in middle age even if they had a normal body mass index (BMI) doubled their risk for getting dementia in their 70s. If they had both an increase in BMI and wide abdominal girth (greater than 25 cm around), the dementia risk was 3.6 times higher, compared to people with a healthy abdominal girth and BMI. Click here to calculate your BMI.

The causal link is unclear, but it may be that fat wraps around organs in your midsection and releases chemicals that damage brain tissue. An increase in jean size in your 40s may predict cognitive decline later in life.

Poor Balance

We all take a misstep once in a while, even when sober and fully charged with sleep. If a young person falls, they will most likely stand up, brush themselves off and go on their merry way. A fall in an older person is not that easily handled.

Coordination and balance are remarkable because they require 3 sensory systems to be healthy and aligned: vision, body kinetics (muscles, bones and joints) and inner ear balance (vestibular). If any one of those systems goes off kilter, it can send someone tumbling. Vestibular dysfunction - dizziness and problems with balance - comes from problems in the inner ear. Changes here can predict a future of disability. Many elderly hospitalized with a fractured hip, for example, are never able to return home again.

Dry Mouth

You wouldn't think that something besides tooth loss would forecast old age, but the lack of saliva is also quite telling. There are lots of serious conditions that list dry mouth (xerostomia) as a prime symptom such as Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects glands that lubricate, including salivary glands. Although dry mouth is not a normal consequence of aging, it can forewarn that another condition is underway. Dry mouth is also a symptom of menopause, diabetes, thyroid disease, Parkinson's disease and sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start a few times a night.

Ear Lobe Crease

If you ask people to name the biggest single harbinger of aging, most will say wrinkles - on the forehead, neck and even hands. But the ear lobe? A diagonal crease on one or both ears (it looks like an earring has been ripped out of the ear) that begins at the bottom of the ear opening and reaches diagonally across the lobe to the tip, can signal a future of heart disease. Experts aren't sure why a crease here also correlates to thickened arteries that supply the heart, but it can show up long before a heart attack occurs.