It is everyone’s prayer to live a long life but old age is influenced by many factors. The pace and precise way it happens varies from person to person, depending on genetic and environmental factors. While someone’s genetic makeup plays a huge part in determining how they age, the quality of health care received and a healthy lifestyle are significant contributors to longevity.
Old age is often associated with many needs including medical needs. This is because the body is weak and the immune system is weak to fight certain diseases that creep into the body. While some medical conditions are fairly mild and may not make much difference to your day-to-day life, other medical conditions require intensive treatment.
Let’s look at 10 ailments that affect people as they age:
High Blood Pressure
The chance of having high blood pressure increases as you get older. Hypertension puts significant strain on the blood vessels, heart, and other vital organs like the kidneys. Noticeable symptoms of hypertension are rare. In fact, the only time someone will notice symptoms of hypertension is when their blood pressure reaches dangerously high levels. This is known as a hypertensive crisis. Symptoms of hypertensive crisis include severe headaches and anxiety, chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.
Diabetes is a disease very common in this part of the world. It occurs when the body is resistant to, or doesn’t produce enough, insulin. Insulin is what the body uses to get energy from food, and distributes it to the cells in the body. When this doesn’t happen, high blood sugar is developed, which can lead to complications such as kidney disease, heart disease, or blindness. It is interesting to also note that chances of having diabetes increases after age 45. It becomes worse when there is a family history or the person is pre-diabetic.
This is one of the nasty ailments affecting people of all ages. Having a stroke can be life-threatening if you don’t seek medical attention straight away. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged and may even die.
Across the world, strokes are a leading cause of disability, with around two thirds of all survivors being left with a disability of some kind.
Dementia (Alzheimer’s disease)
The most common cognitive health issue facing the elderly is dementia, the loss of those cognitive functions. Dementia is a progressive disorder that affects memory and overall brain function. Approximately 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia—a number that is predicted to nearly triple in size by 2050.
Alzheimer’s Disease is one specific type of dementia—a condition that causes memory loss and difficulty thinking or problem-solving to the point that it interferes with everyday activities.
Vascular dementia is another type of dementia that develops as a result of a stroke or blood vessel deterioration.
Fourteen percent of older adults sought treatment for depression – a treatable medical condition that is not a normal part of ageing. Depression causes persistent feelings of sadness, pessimism, hopelessness, fatigue, difficulty making decisions, changes in appetite, a loss of interest in activities, and more.
Arthritis is an inflammation of your joints, which causes pain and stiffness. It affects older adults which prevents them from walking well and over a distance. There are two common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Among older people, osteoarthritis is more common; Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear. This is because as people get the joints they are being used as people age and this weakens the bones. Losing bone mass is a natural part of the ageing process, however, some people lose density faster than normal. This condition develops slowly over time and is often left undiagnosed until a fall causes a bone fracture.
The risk of a fall increases with arthritis and it is more common in women than men. This is because they lose bone density rapidly after going through menopause.
This is a condition that occurs when the heart cannot adequately supply blood and oxygen to all of the organs in the body. The heart might become enlarged, develop more muscle mass, or pump faster in order to meet the body’s needs, causing you to feel tired, light headed, nauseous, confused, or lack an appetite. The best prevention is to follow a doctor’s recommendations to decrease your risk for coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is quite common among older people. There are several other medical conditions that affect the kidneys and can lead to chronic kidney disease. These conditions include kidney infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney inflammation. People dealing with CKD have an increased risk for developing heart disease or kidney failure. Unfortunately, symptoms for the early stages of CKD are quite rare. In most cases, the condition is diagnosed during a blood or urine test for other medical conditions.
The leading cause of blindness is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects more than 600,000 people in the UK. AMD occurs when deposits build up on the macula (a small area at the centre of the retina). AMD can also be caused by abnormal blood vessels developing under the macula.
Other medical conditions can cause sight loss too – such as glaucoma and diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy damages the retina, leading to sight loss.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe, causing shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness. It includes two main conditions—emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a condition that affects the lungs and airways. Most cases of bronchitis develop as a result of an infection that irritates the bronchi (airways), causing an overproduction of mucus. The body tries to shift this excess mucus via coughing. When this coughing continues daily for several months of the year, for two years or more, the person is said to suffer from Chronic bronchitis.
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