Multiple minor symptoms could be a warning sign your health is derailing

We all know what a symptom is. After all, when you go to your doctor with a cold and they ask you what your symptoms are you’ll tell them that you’ve been sneezing, coughing, have a runny nose and a fever.

But, as you age, the word symptom can take on new meaning…

In fact, symptoms like feeling tired or rundown are among the leading causes of disability for older adults. And, it’s a well-known fact that the older you get, the more likely you are to experience more than one symptom at a time, compounding their effects and making each one feel even worse.

However, up until now, no one has known how having more than one symptom can affect your ability to function as you age, much less your risk of falling, becoming disabled or even dying.

But, that has now changed and thanks to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, we have the answer…

Nearly half of older adults at risk

The team of researchers examined information from a large study of older adults, the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), which included more than 7,500 participants aged 65 and older.

They focused on answers given to several questions in the study that showed whether a participant had symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep at night
  • Depression or anxiety

The team also measured the participants’ grip strength and closely observed whether they walked slowly, their balance and their ability to rise from a chair.

Other things the researchers looked for was whether they had fallen or had an overnight hospital stay in the last year, had any chronic diseases and whether they had trouble performing their daily activities (such as getting in or out of bed, eating, toileting, bathing, and getting dressed).

And, what they found was scary…

The researchers learned that 75 percent of older adults had at least one symptom. But, nearly half had two or more symptoms. Even worse, close to 14 percent — almost 5 million older adults in the U.S. —had four or more symptoms.

Can you imagine…

Close to five million people in our country living with four or more symptoms every day of their lives?

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Major risk factors

And, that’s not all the research team learned. They also discovered the factors that put you most at risk for developing multiple symptoms.

The researchers learned that:

  • Signs increased with older age.
  • Women were more likely to have more symptoms than men.
  • Compared to white individuals, black and Hispanic participants had more symptoms.
  • Older adults with lower levels of education had a higher number of symptoms than those with higher education levels.
  • Current smoking, obesity, and an inactive lifestyle were also associated with a higher number of symptoms.
  • Participants, who had a chronic medical condition, or multiple chronic conditions, also experienced more symptoms.

What does this mean?

And, while that’s all interesting to note, here’s the really important part…

Older adults who reported more symptoms had weaker grip strength and walked more slowly (measurements that have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, premature death and Alzheimer’s).

And over time, older adults with more symptoms had an increased risk of falls, hospitalizations, disability, and mortality.

Yep, the more signs you have, the more likely you are to have a heart attack or stroke, lose your memories, fall, be hospitalized, become disabled and die.

If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is!

And, it makes it vital that you not ignore any symptoms you are currently experiencing no matter how minor they seem because addressing them quickly could help you reduce the number of symptoms you have as you age and save your life or the quality of it.

Whatever symptoms you have, whether they include fatigue, depression, pain, trouble sleeping or a host of others, take steps to manage and reduce them starting today and you could ensure a longer, healthier, more independent future.


  1. Learning about the impact of multiple symptoms in older adults — EurekAlert!
  2. Grab a pickle jar and try this at-home longevity test — Easy Health Options®
  3. Older Adults Who Have Slower Walking Speeds May Have Increased Risk for Dementia —
  4. Your Walking Speed May Be Linked to Risk of Heart Disease — Cleveland Clinic
  5. The simple test that reveals your brain’s health — Easy Health Options®
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.