Health is wealth, and ailments are death messengers. Until you or a close relation gets critically ill, you won’t understand the pains of being bed-ridden or under medications for a long while. Neither would you appreciate the joys of health.
With climate change, poor eating habits, unhealthy lifestyles, lack of exercise, high stress levels and increase in dominant hereditary diseases in recent times, health issues are becoming more common than ever in the world today.
This is also connected to progress in medical science, as ailments are easily diagnosed and treatment administered. In the past decades, communicable diseases were rampant, but today, it’s the case of non-communicable diseases and most of it are terminal. This article talks about top 10 most common health issues in the world today and their symptoms, causes and preventive measures.
10. Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease affects cognitive function of the brain, and is more common in females than in males. It is characterized by loss of memory, especially in recognizing names, places, animals (nouns basically). The exact cause of Alzheimer disease is unknown, however, it is widely associated with the elderly. Advancing age and genetic family history are common risk factors posed against Alzheimer’s. Also obesity, hypertension and Down’s syndrome among others, can lead to Alzheimer’s as well.
To treat someone with Alzheimer’s disease, symptomatic therapies using cholinesterase inhibitors are required. Drugs are used according to symptoms: antidepressants for depression, agitation, sleep disorders, etc. Routine physical exercises will have positive impact on the progression of the disease. Also, increased cardiorespiratory fitness has also been shown to slow down Alzheimer’s progression.
AIDS originated from chimpanzees and is a global pandemic. About 37 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, while 17 million of them are unaware that they have the virus. The virus can be transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal fluid, rectal fluids and can be prevented if transmission of fluids can be avoided. Hence, the practice of safe blood transfusion, safe sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, getting tested and treated for other STDs are advised to prevent contacting the disease.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps HIV infected people to minimize virus load and stop progression of disease, thus reducing risk of transmission to other people. Antiretroviral therapy is provided to pregnant mothers to minimize risk of transmission to a child, while new born children should also receive the treatment for 6 weeks. As a post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), it is also used in cases possibly exposed to HIV as in breakage of barrier during sex, exposure to virus in health workers, etc.
8. Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is assessed by measurement of GFR, which is the ability of kidneys to filter blood. Normal value of GFR is 125ml/min and by definition decrease in GFR is kidney failure. The causes of acute kidney injury include pre-renal causes like dehydration, blood loss and shock, while renal causes include infections of kidney; obstruction to urine flow falls under post-renal causes.
To prevent kidney disease, it is advised to reduce the intake of protein and salt. Inadequate fluid consumption , excess smoking and obesity can also contribute to kidney diseases. To handle this condition, the root causes needs to be taken care of first. Kidney transplant can be recommended when the case has gone beyond normal treatment.
7. Mental Health
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, substance abuse, and other mental health challenges can be life threatening, especially in Nigeria, where most of the victims roam the streets un-catered for. According to World Health Organization, Mental health and well-being are fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living, and enjoy life.
Anyone suffering from mental related ailments can not function properly in a society. Although, the medical community do not see the urgency in restoring people with mental health issues back to healthy state, such disease can kill the mind, dreams and future of an individual.
Stroke is a condition caused by the interruption of blood supply to the brain, therefore leading to the death of brain cells. It may be caused by ischemia (blocked artery) or hemorrhagic (bursting of blood vessels). Stroke can lead to obesity due to physical inactivity, hypertension and diabetes. It can also lead to paralysis of contra-lateral sides of the body, loss of cognitive function, emotional problems and abnormal behaviors.
There are different types of influenza. However, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with diabetes and hypertension are more vulnerable to catching the disease. With complications like pneumonia, influenza poses a serious threat especially to the above mentioned risk groups. Preemptive vaccination is the most effective way to prevent influenza while regular washing of hands, preventing unnecessary touching of nose and mouth and wearing masks are also to be adhered to.
Ebola killed over 8,000 people in 2014, including hundreds of health workers. In 2015, West Africa and the world continued the struggle to contain the epidemic. However, Nigeria was able to tackle Ebola the last time it hit the country, and that has somehow given the medical sector a reputation of being efficient in handling such diseases, and also capable of preventing further outbreaks.
3. Heart Diseases
Heart diseases are highly fatal. Smoking, high-fat diet, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle are the common causes, while other body conditions help aggravate the condition. To reduce the risk of having heart diseases, preventive measures like quitting smoking, minimizing salt intake, regular physical exercise, consuming a diet low in fat and having regular health checkups will go a long way.
Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high blood glucose levels: fasting blood sugar level greater than 110 mg/dl, random blood glucose level greater than 200 mg/dl. Blood glucose level is maintained in normal range of 70-110 mg/dl by insulin, a hormone secreted by β cells of pancreas. Any abnormality that causes damage of β cells, thus little or no insulin, contributes to pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes commonly seen in children and youth.
Diabetes leads to many acute and chronic complications affecting almost all parts of the body – brain (stroke, cognitive impairment), eye (retinopathy, glaucoma), heart (heart attack, congestive heart failure), nerves (peripheral neuropathy), ear (hearing impairment), skin (increased risk of infections).
It thus remains one of the most debilitating diseases. Preventive measures include lifestyle modifications like regular exercise, inclusion of fiber-rich whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits in diet, maintaining normal weight and regular checkup.
Cancer remains one of the major health concerns of the 21st century. Its occurrence has been increasing with modernization and advancement perhaps due to environmental deterioration and increased exposure to chemicals and radiation.
While there’s no particular cause of cancer, various risk factors contribute to the genesis of particular kinds of cancer. Tobacco and smoking, obesity, alcoholism, too much sun exposure and radiation are among the common risk factors, while genetics also plays a pivotal role with increased risk among siblings and relatives.
Various infections like Hepatitis B virus and Human Papilloma virus are also among the progenitors of cancer. Prostate cancer and breast cancer are the most common cancers in males and females respectively. While a number of anticancer drugs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are used in treating cancer, complete treatment is still far off for many neoplasms. Early detection of cancer is crucial. Regular screening for cancer, lifestyle modifications like regular exercise, healthy diet, quitting smoking and tobacco are the preventive measures.