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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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