LIFESTYLE DISORDERS : NEED OF AN HOUR

LIFESTYLE DISORDERS : NEED OF AN HOUR

LIFESTYLE DISORDERS : NEED OF AN HOUR

In the recent times, there is an increasing incidence of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, behavioural problems, high cholesterol, obesity affecting  even the people of younger age. Despite increasing health awareness, more than half of the people in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai suffer from many lifestyle diseases. The changed living habits due to increasing employment, sedentary lifestyle and competitive living are the main culprits coming in the way of golden rule of healthy living. These are called lifestyle disorders because of the reason that the diseases associated with this are limited to people who adopt  unhealthy and inappropriate lifestyles. Industrialization, economic liberalization, invasion of international mass media, expansion of information & communication technology etc. are also altering the health style of the community.  Concurrently, there is drastic increase in the incidence of long term and chronic diseases. This is further adding the diseases burden even in developing countries.

Improvement in sanitation, health awareness and better medical facilities have reduced the incidence of communicable and vector born diseases like malaria, cholera and polio, but lifestyle disorders are  increasing both in urban and rural areas. Lifestyle disorders  are due to choices that people make in their life. The good news is that most of the lifestyle disorders are preventable and many are even reversible. 
Non Communicable diseases, chiefly cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease and stroke), diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases are diseases of long duration and generally slow in progression. 

CAUSES
The commonest causes of lifestyle disorders are 
•    Eating unhealthy foods,
•    Over eating,
•    Over dependence on processed foods,
•    Energy drinks,
•    Artificial sweeteners and fast foods.

Sedentary living, smoking, drinking alcohol, stress, poor sleeping habits which are all attributed mainly to the so called modern living habits and urbanization added with the altered eating habits makes the situation worse.

The most common lifestyle disorders are :
•    Cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke.
•    Cancer, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, chronic liver disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD), diabetes and osteoporosis also fall under this category.
•    Obesity is yet another lifestyle problem. 

Factors on which this issue depends :
•    The nature and duration of work,
•    The amount of time you spare for exercise and recreation,
•    The time you spend with your loved ones,
•    The stress factor in your life,
•    Your physical activity etc.
Other contributing factors include poor posture, kind of foods you eat and poor sleeping habits. 

Another important contributing factor for lifestyle disorders is
•    Smoking and alcoholism especially in youth. The younger generation thinks that smoking acts as a stress buster, but this concept is actually a complete myth. It actually reduces a person's stamina in the long run leading to the development of multiple diseases. 

Symptoms
The symptoms of the cardio vascular diseases are :
•    chest pain (angina),
•    shortness of breath,
•    pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms if the blood vessels in those parts of your body are narrowed.
•    may be associated with pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back, palpitations, weakness or dizziness, nausea or sweating.

Symptoms of a heart attack include :
•    discomfort, pressure, heaviness or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone,
•    discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat or arm.
•    Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling, heartburn,  sweating, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness.
•    Extreme weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeats may be present.

Type 2 diabetes develop slowly :
•    Increased thirst and frequent urination may be one of the earliest symptoms.
•    Increased hunger,
•    weight loss,
•    fatigue,
•    blurred vision,
•    slow-healing sores or frequent infections, areas of darkened skin are the noticeable symptoms.

Obesity is likely when an individual's body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared. BMI in Metric formula = (Weight in Kilograms / (Height in Meters x Height in Meters))

Diagnosis
Usually the diagnosis of the problems is made during a routine examination or when a person consults the doctor with some minor complaints.  Detailed examinations and investigation shall reveal the specific causative factor for the complaint. 
Blood sugar estimation (fasting and postprandial) and urine analysis for sugar and micro albumin are done in cases of Diabetes. HbA1c is used as a diagnostic test for diabetes, now a days.
The extent of COPD is revealed through Pulmonary Function Tests and Chest X ray.

Ultrasound and Liver Function test (LFT) are useful for revealing the function of liver.  For evaluating the functioning of  heart, routine ECG, 
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by estimating Serum calcium and bone densitometry.
The investigations required in hypertension are urine analysis for understanding the involvement of  Kidney such as Albumin, hyaline cast, Fundoscopy to understand the status of retina
Body Mass Index measurement is the easy way to assess the obesity.

Complications
Lifestyle disorders have its own course of complications, if not properly attended in time.
The complications of DIABETES develop gradually. The type and seriousness of complications are determined by the duration of diabetes and the extent of blood sugar control. People with diabetes are at a increased risk of developing diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth as well developing infections. 
Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.
Eye complications like diabetic retinopathy may lead to blindness. Diabetes increases the risk of cataracts and glaucoma. 
If untreated, cuts and blisters can develop serious infections leading to gangrene, that may require amputation of toe, foot or leg. 
Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin are also common in diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be. 
Hypertension is another lifestyle disorder. The cardiac complications of hypertension are left ventricular failure, congestive cardiac failure and myocardial infarction. The cerebral complications are cerebro- vascular accidents (stroke) & neurological symptoms associated with hypertension. Hypertension may also cause hypertensive retinopathy and uremia.
Chronic Alcoholism is associated with the change in lifestyle. Alcohol lowers the inhibitions  of the person leading to poor choices and dangerous situations or behaviours such as motor vehicle accidents, drowning, domestic problems, poor performance at work or school, increased likelihood of committing violent crimes and even suicides. Alcoholic hepatitis  is another complication that  may lead to irreversible destruction and scarring of liver tissue commonly called cirrhosis.
Over drinking can lead to high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction in men and interrupted menstruation in women. Long-term excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, colon and breast cancer. 
Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle – so brittle that even mild stresses like bending over or lifting or coughing can cause a fracture. In most cases, bones weaken when low levels of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals in the bones and results as low bone density. A common result of osteoporosis is fractures of the spine, hip or wrist. Fractures from osteoporosis are about twice more in women than in men. The older, the higher risk of osteoporosis.
Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis and infertility or irregular periods.

Management
Prevention is the better way to maintain good health in this world of being busy and occupied.
The Golden Rules of preventing lifestyle disorders.

Lifestyle disorders are preventable and even reversible, if appropriate lifestyle modifications are made well in time.
•    Always go for healthy diet and moderate exercise to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.
•    Quit smoking immediately if you are a smoker. Avoid alcohol. Say no to tobacco chewing.
•    A healthy diet is nothing but a balanced food which includes fresh vegetables, fruits, minerals, proteins and vitamins.
•    Regular physical activity and learning to live stress-free life will bring remarkable changes on lifestyle disorders.
•    Long sitting at work place results in back and neck pain. Correct your sitting posture and take breaks from long sitting.
•    Brisk walking on a daily basis, regular exercise, taking a break from routine work for a holiday, cultivating hobbies of your liking, visiting the country side occasionally are the best ways of keeping away lifestyle diseases.
•    Practice of yoga, meditation and spiritual pursuits are found to enhance positive health.
•    Lifestyle disorders are treatable if detected early. Go for periodic medical checkups and avoid self medication.

LIFESTYLE DISORDERS are a serious threat to our generation and we need to work upon them seriously. These basic amendments in our living will surely benefit our generation and prevent these disorders.