Aging is a normal biological process that everyone goes through. While there are certain things that we can do to look and feel younger, the body will still be the age that it is. This means that there’s a risk of developing age-related illnesses.
It seems that many age-related illnesses are inevitable, but research suggests that many of the most common ones can be prevented. Here’s a description of six common age-related illnesses, other risk factors in addition to aging, and how they can possibly be prevented.
6 Common Age-Related Illnesses & Diseases | Updates On Prevention!
Age-related illnesses and diseases are common, but most of us are not fully aware of them. This article has discussed everything from illnesses to their prevention methods. So, let’s proceed and know all these health issues in detail.
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#1 Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a group of lung diseases that obstruct airflow from the lungs, making it very hard to breathe. The number one cause of COPD is smoking and being exposed to other irritants of the lungs. Damage caused by COPD can’t be reversed, so the best way to avoid it is to prevent it altogether. Ways to reduce your risk of COPD include:
- Quitting smoking/not starting
- Avoiding secondhand smoke
- Avoiding other air pollutants
In addition to smoking and other air pollutants, age is another risk factor for developing COPD, with the prevalence of the disease being up to three times higher in those over the age of 60.
Like COPD, dementia is also a group of diseases— except that they affect cognitive functioning rather than the lungs. Dementia is one of the most well-known conditions associated with aging and can be characterized by:
- Memory loss
- Language issues
- Diminished thinking capacity
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, making up nearly 80% of all dementia cases. Although genetics play a vital role in the development of dementia, research suggests that cognitive stimulation, healthy eating, and regular exercise can help decrease one’s risk.
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#3 Diabetes (Type 2)
With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin, and of the insulin it does create, the cells in the body don’t respond to it properly. Having diabetes can also affect other organs of the body, such as the heart, eyes, and kidneys. Some of the symptoms of diabetes include:
- Blurred vision
- Darkened skin (armpits and neck)
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Weight loss
Some of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes are a poor diet, lack of exercise, and genetics. However, age plays a pretty big role in diabetes as well, as those over the age of 45 are at an increased risk of developing the disease. The best way to reduce your risk (even if you’re of a certain age and have a family history) is to eat healthier and exercise regularly.
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#4 Eye/Vision Problems
Our eyes tend to weaken as we age, prompting many people to get glasses for farsightedness, but the most common eye illness in the elderly is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is when the macula becomes damaged and causes problems with central vision. It doesn’t cause blindness, but it does cause significant vision loss making it harder to see.
Those over the age of 55 are at risk for AMD, and their chances of developing it are increased by having a family history of it and smoking. Fortunately, research suggests that you can lower your chances of AMD by not smoking, exercising regularly, and eating lots of leafy greens and oily fish.
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#5 Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. These hair cells can’t be regrown, so when they’re damaged, hearing loss is permanent. Unfortunately, the inner ear naturally changes as we age, which puts us at risk for this type of hearing loss. Other risk factors include:
- Certain medical conditions, like diabetes
- Certain medications
- Exposure to loud noises
- Family history
Like the name suggests, age-related hearing loss is a normal part of aging, but its effects can be lessened and possibly even prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and reducing prolonged exposure to loud noises.
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#6 Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis
Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joint cartilage and underlying bone, while osteoporosis is the loss of bone density. The former is caused by normal wear and tear on the joints, while the latter is caused by hormonal changes or a nutrient deficiency. Both can lead to a life of inactivity, which can result in more serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and even infections resulting from bed sores if one is extremely sedentary.
Risk factors for both include age, being female, and joint/bone injury after the age of 40. Osteoarthritis can be prevented by exercising appropriately and not putting too much stress on the joints, while osteoporosis can be effectively treated/prevented if caught early enough. Both may be prevented through diet, with collagen having a positive effect on the joints and vitamin D and calcium being good for bone health.
Overall, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and not smoking all seem to be common factors in increasing the chances of preventing age-related illnesses. Living a healthy lifestyle has been proven to prevent a number of other illnesses, so it’s possible that it will also prevent age-related illnesses.