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8 Major Health Problems in The World Today

8 Major Health Problems in The World Today

Health problems are becoming more common than ever in the world today. This probably has to do with both progress in medical science, because of which it has been easy to diagnose health problems, and also people’s lifestyle, which is becoming increasingly unhealthy.

The principal causes for common health issues are unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, environmental degradation, high stress levels and genetics. While in the past, communicable ailments were the major issues, non-communicable diseases are the primary issues today.

Below, we discuss the most prevalent health issues in the world today along with their symptoms, causes and preventive measures.

1. Cancer

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. Hence, early detection of cancer is crucial.

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Regular screening for cancer, lifestyle modifications like regular exercise, healthy diet, quitting smoking and tobacco are the preventive measures.

2. Diabetes

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, and thus little or no insulin, contributes to pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes commonly seen in children and youth. Type 2 diabetes however results when body cells become resistant to action of insulin and it commonly affects older people.

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.

Treatment regimen for type 1 and type 2 diabetes differ in that type 1 diabetes treatment includes insulin while type 2 diabetes are cured by sulfonylureas (glibenclamide, glipizide), meglitinides (repaglinide), biguanides (metformin), thiazolidinediones (pioglitazone).

3. Heart diseases

Heart diseases like myocardial infarction, angina, and heart failure have been associated with a high fatality rate, killing more people than all forms of cancer combined in the United States.

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Smoking, high-fat diet, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle are the common causes, while other body conditions add fuel to the fire aggravating the disease. Atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension and infections are common culprits.

Hence, preventive measures like putting an end to smoking, minimizing salt intake, regular physical exercise, consuming a diet low in fat and having regular health checkups will do a lot in reducing your risk for heart diseases.

4. Kidney disease

Renal failure remains one of the main global medical concerns. 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.

Causes of acute kidney injury include pre-renal causes like dehydration, blood loss and shock; renal causes include infections of kidney; obstruction to urine flow falls under post-renal causes.

When kidneys don’t function for more than 3 months, it’s called chronic kidney disease, unlike acute kidney injury which is acute in onset. Symptoms include reduced urine volume, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle cramps, etc.

Guidelines for kidney disease prevention include reduced protein intake, salt restriction, adequate fluid intake, cessation of smoking and maintaining normal body weight. Supplements like Forskolin really help in weight loss. Since kidney failure is mostly caused by diabetes and hypertension, treatment strategies include control of blood glucose level and blood pressure by necessary hypoglycemic and anti-hypertensive drugs. Kidney transplant is reserved for serious cases.

5. Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease affects cognitive function of the brain, and is more common in females than in males. In males, another brain disease—Parkinson disease—is more common.

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While the exact cause of Alzheimer disease remains unknown, its widely known that advancing age and family history are common risk factors along with obesity, hypertension and Down syndrome among others.

Pathophysiology involves accumulation of senile plaques or beta-amyloid plaques and formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) ultimately leading to loss of neurons and synapses necessary for cognitive functions of the body.

Treatment therapy includes only symptomatic therapies–cholinesterase inhibitors. Drugs are used according to symptoms, like antidepressants for depression and for agitation, sleep disorders, etc. Routine physical exercise will have effect on disease progression as increased cardiorespiratory fitness has been shown to slow disease progression.

6. Influenza

While a healthy person can fight influenza on his/her own, immunocompromised people, especially children, old, pregnant women, and people with conditions like diabetes and hypertension are at increased risk of developing potentially fatal pneumonia.

Increased incidence and death toll due to swine flu (H1N1 virus) led the WHO to declare the first flu pandemic in 41 years on June 11, 2009. It affected all continents except Antarctica in 2009-2010 season and has been regular problem since then, though luckily mortality rate has been similar to usual flu.

With complications like pneumonia, influenza poses a serious threat especially to above mentioned risk groups. Preemptive vaccination is the most effective way to prevent disease while regular washing of hands, preventing unnecessary touching of nose and mouth and wearing masks are also to be followed.

Two antiviral agents, Zanamavir and Oseltamavir, are effective drugs to reduce the effects of swine flu, with newer drugs under study. There is evidence, however, of drug resistance due to excessive and indiscriminate use. Hence, necessary precautions and prevention are the most efficient way to save oneself from falling victim to the influenza virus.

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7. Stroke

Stroke or cerebrovascular accident is a condition potentially caused when blood supply to brain is interrupted thus leading to death of brain cells. It may be caused by ischemia– due to blocked artery—or it can be hemorrhagic—due to bursting of blood vessel.

Risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, hypertension and diabetes, while genetics also plays a role. Since it can lead to a number of complications like paralysis of contralateral sides of the body, loss of cognitive function, emotional problems and abnormal behaviors, and also due to the fact that treatment for any disease of the brain is complicated, one ought to have adequate knowledge about stroke, about its risk factors in general and everyone should develop healthy lifestyle.

8. AIDS

AIDS, having originated from chimpanzees, is already a global pandemic. About 37 million people are living with HIV AIDS with 17 million unaware of the fact they have the virus in their body. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region with 25.8 million victims there, with significant number of them being children due to mother-to-child transmission either during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Transmitted through body fluids–blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal fluid, rectal fluids—it can be prevented if transmission of fluids can be avoided. Hence, safe blood transfusion, safe sex, limiting the number of sexual partners, getting tested and treated for other STDs are the effective preventive measures.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps HIV infected people to minimize virus load and stop progression of disease thus, reducing risk of transmission to other people as well. Antiretroviral therapy is provided to pregnant mother to minimize risk of transmission to child while new born child 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.

Featured photo credit: Wikipedia via upload.wikimedia.org

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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