To be human is to worry and as we age, our list of distresses seems to get longer particularly when it relates to our health. The good news is we alleviate this anxiety by visiting a doctor regularly to help diagnose, take pro-active steps to prevent, manage and overcome the things than concern us the most. These are among the top 5 mind-burdening health topics among seniors:
- Arthritis – There are many types of arthritis but older adults most often have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout. Symptoms may include: joint pain, joint swelling, joint stiffness, tenderness or pain when touching a joint, problems using or moving a joint normally and warmth and redness in a joint. Medication, exercise, stretching, hot or cold pads and glucosamine and chondroitin are among several things that may help alleviate the symptoms.
- Heart Disease describes a range of conditions that affect the heart. Heart disease often manifests as discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing, or a painful feeling in your chest. It can be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn. Other symptoms can be: shortness of breath, palpitations, rapid heartbeat, weakness or dizziness, nausea or sweating. See your doctor early and regularly and discuss any symptoms or concerns.
- Cancer – Age is the greatest risk factor for developing cancer. There are many kinds of cancers but basically cancer refers to when cells become abnormal and start reproducing. These extra abnormal cells form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. If the tumor gets bigger, it can hurt nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells also can spread to other parts of the body. When cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to work. Early and effective cancer treatment can shrink and even destroy the tumor and stop it from growing and spreading.
- Respiratory Diseases – Aging changes the bones and muscles of the chest and spine. Bones get thinner and may change shape and as a result it could be difficult for it to expand and contract your ribcage well. The muscle that supports your breathing, the diaphragm, gets considerably weaker. Muscles and other tissues near airways may not be able to keep the airways completely open. Aging also causes the air sacs to lose their shape and become baggy causing air to get trapped in your lungs. Too little oxygen may enter your blood vessels and less carbon dioxide may be removed and the nerves in airways, that trigger coughing, become less responsive. The immune system in older adults is less able to fight lung infections and other diseases making it more prone to respiratory diseases.
- Alzheimer’s – According to Web MD, Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 1 in 10 people over age 65. It is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, the most common cause of dementia among seniors and can be severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life.
Underlying these diseases and conditions there are usually factors such as smoking and tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition. An immediate lifestyle change toward eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake is bound to help but nothing replaces the advice of an expert. Don’t wait. Visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
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