Health Risks We Stop Taking As We Get Older

July 11, 2019  |  
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health issues and aging

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Do you ever look back at some of your behaviors from your younger years and think Thank God I’m alive? I know I took a lot of risks when I was younger. Risk-seeking behavior doesn’t stop at the teen years. I was doing some pretty dumb things well into my mid twenties. We may say, at that age, that we know we aren’t invincible and that we know we are mere mortals, but our actions would certainly say otherwise. I think it takes some of the close calls and even tragedies we experience or witness later in life to really shake some sense into us. At this point, I have had two friends who are young women undergo chemotherapy for cancer. More acquaintances than I can count have been hospitalized for drug and alcohol overdoses. I had a health scare that could have been much worse than it turned out. Things have gotten real and that’s why, there are some health and safety risks you just stop taking as you get older.

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Having unprotected sex

Remember when you had unprotected with someone because he just seemed clean and you had a few friends in common so he seemed safe? Fine even if you won’t admit you did it, I will. Oh, and one man with whom I had unprotected sex wound up having a serious STD years after we slept together. I just got lucky that I slept with him before that. I’m in a relationship now but when I wasn’t, and I was older and wiser, if a man didn’t have a condom, my pants were back on in 15 seconds.

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Disregarding restaurant health ratings

I don’t even think I looked at health ratings when I was in my early twenties. I looked for that single $ sign on Yelp to just find the cheapest place possible. I ate at a lot of questionable food trucks—no, not even trucks, carts—on the street after a night of drinking. And I had a few bouts of food poisoning then, too.

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Letting the “least drunk” friend drive

I’m very ashamed of this one, but there were some times in my early twenties when I got in a car with a driver who had been drinking. I don’t know if she was under or over the limit—none of us knew—but she had had drinks that night. Our rule back then was, “The least drunk one drives.” Now if I have so much as 1.5 drinks, I get an Uber and I won’t let a friend who has had more than two drinks drive.

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Hanging with a sick friend

I went on a road trip with a friend who was in the middle of the flu when I was younger. We didn’t want to waste the money we’d spent on the motels. But guess who came back from that trip so sick that I had to miss so many days of work I lost more money than I’d spent on those motel rooms? Now, if a friend says she even feels she is coming down with something, I cancel my plans with her.

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Kissing a sick boyfriend

Kiss him. Have sex with him. Share food with him. I used to do it all with my boyfriend while he had the full-blown flu. “I’m bound to get sick either way—may as well get it over with,” I’d say. Now, I just know how much being sick screws up my life. I quarantine my boyfriend to the guest room and sanitize every surface in the house every day until he’s better. There are ways to stay healthy when your live-in partner is sick.

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Buying questionable vitamins and medicine

I just wanted to save money when I was younger, so I’d buy vitamins or allergy medications from the dollar store. They were made by brands I’d never heard of in my life. And, I still got allergies, and got sick plenty. Now I stick to trusted brands for vitamins, medicine, and supplements.

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Trying non-FDA-approved diet products

As many young women are, I was obsessed with being thin in my early twenties. I’d do anything to be thin, including trying weird powders for my smoothies, “detoxing” teas, and even diet pills. I had dizzy spells and nausea from most of these. Today, I A) don’t care about being skinny and B) turn to healthier methods if I do need to lose a few.

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Going in a sketchy Jacuzzi

If I’d had a few drinks and a Jacuzzi presented itself, I was going in—in my underwear or nude if I didn’t have a bathing suit. Now I know how much a bacterial infection down south can cause total misery for weeks. If I don’t know that pool or hot tub is clean, I’m not going in.

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Getting the cheap workout pants

The ones made from synthetic material that don’t breathe but only cost around $5. Yeah—I don’t buy those anymore. I buy the organic stuff that costs a bit more in dollars but won’t cost me the antibiotic or cream I’ll need later for the UTI.

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Going home with strangers

I just assumed everyone was a fun-loving, carefree, and harmless soul like I was in my early twenties. Now I look back and think I can’t believe my friend and I went with those men to their remote ranch in the middle of nowhere and lived to tell the tale.

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Asking our friends for medical advice

In my younger years, if I had a weird rash come up or my throat looked spotty, I’d just send photos to my friends and ask them what they thought I should do. Or I’d turn to the Internet. Then I’d wind up in urgent care when it turned out my friends (who weren’t doctors) had misdiagnosed me.

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Taking unidentified cigarettes

I smoked a lot of little rolled up things that had who knows what in them when I was younger. I took them from total strangers. Now, well, I don’t smoke anything. But if I do, I go to a licensed retailer and don’t share with anyone.

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Mixing alcohol and energy drinks

I used to love this mixture when I was younger. Now, I know that it causes nausea, jitters, insomnia, and blood sugar fluctuations that could make me pass out.

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Going days without sleeping

If I so much as miss half a night’s sleep today, I can feel it for days. But when I was younger, I’d travel and just stay up for 60 hours partying. Now, I know missing a night of sleep could be the final straw in catching that cold or getting the flu. I can’t do that to my immune system.

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Avoiding a doctor for years

I used to get a teeth cleaning and a checkup every…three or four years. Whoops. I wouldn’t really go in for these routine visits until my mom shrieked, “It’s been how long since you’ve seen a doctor?!” But I take my health seriously now. I schedule my next teeth cleaning while I’m finishing the current one and have 12 reminders for my annual checkup.

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