While the world is still reeling from COVID 19, we should not forget that we are in danger of more conditions that cannot protect you regardless of how often we wear face masks or sanitize our hands. These are non-communicable diseases, and they are just as, or even more deadly, than any type of coronavirus.
Non-communicable diseases, or NCDs, are non-infectious and cannot be transferred to other people. Main causes are due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, although environmental and genetic factors may also be at play. Most NCDs are chronic, difficult to treat, and may cause death.
Here are some of the things that you need to know about non-communicable diseases, and what you can do to prevent them.
Health Impact of Non-Communicable Diseases
The World Health Organization states that over 41 million people die each year due to NCDs. That is equal to almost three-quarters of total deaths. In addition, 85% of these deaths occur outside of first world countries. Many non-communicable diseases also impact all age groups, not just the elderly.
Non-communicable diseases are also often chronic. The most common NCDs are, namely:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory Diseases
Combined, these diseases comprise 80% of the people who die from an NCD.
In addition to the dangers posed by NCDs to our health, these conditions also take a drastic toll in a country’s health care system. Not only that, but the lives of NCD sufferers are also drastically altered, often requiring constant treatment and loss of work for a large majority of their lives.
Most Common Non-Communicable Diseases
The CDC reports that one person dies every 37 seconds in the U.S. due to complications arising from heart disease. It is the number one killer in most countries around the world, and it costs billions of dollars to treat. Other heart-related conditions can also lead to other complications such as high blood pressure and stroke.
Obesity, caused by a poor diet as well as lack of regular exercise, are the main causes of cardiovascular disease. It can also be hereditary. While most affected by heart disease are the elderly, even young adults are susceptible to this disease. In fact, 20% of heart-related deaths are aged below 50 years old.
Cancer comes in many forms, and you can be susceptible to one of these depending on your age, gender, or lifestyle. Cancer killed over 9 million people in 2018, with the most common types of cancer affecting the lungs, liver, breast, liver, or prostate.
Exposure to carcinogens such as radiation, tobacco smoke, and excessive preservatives are blamed when it comes to cancers. However, evidence has shown that it can also be hereditary. As such, regular screening is a must especially if someone in your family has the disease. This is even more important once you reach middle age.
Several types of respiratory diseases cause death, and most of them are chronic in nature. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is one of the most common types of respiratory tract diseases, along with asthma, emphysema, and pneumonia. COPD kills around 3 million people each year.
Most respiratory diseases are caused by inhaling irritants such as smoke, dust, or pollen. However, the primary cause of these diseases is caused by smoking. Those who live in industrialized places or those who smoke are most susceptible to these types of conditions.
Some reports say that over 10% of Americans have one of the three types of diabetes. Another frightening fact about this is that many still remain undiagnosed. Many more are also pre-diabetic, which means that they have an increased chance of getting the disease later in life.
While diabetes is an auto-immune disease, a healthy lifestyle that limits sugar intake can help prevent this condition, especially Type 2 diabetes. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels can help you detect diabetes before it leads to further complications.
Examples of neurological diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Many neurological disorders manifest during old age, but others such as ALS can strike during early adulthood.
Those who contract neurological disorders, due to the damage being done to brain cells, will experience loss of motor functions. Quality of life will also gradually decrease, although some may be able to live long lives despite the condition.
According to the CDC, almost a quarter of adults have arthritis. This can cause limited mobility as well as chronic pain. Arthritis can be due to many causes such as wear and tear of the cartilage connecting joints, disease, or an autoimmune response of the body.
While arthritis is not life-threatening, it can dramatically decrease a sufferer’s quality of life. As movement would be limited, their productivity would decrease. Those with arthritis also have a slightly higher chance of having substance abuse problems or mental illnesses.
While some skin diseases such as those that come from fungal infections are communicable, others such as psoriasis or eczema are not. These types of skin-related issues are considered as autoimmune diseases, and these episodes can come and go.
Skin diseases can also be a complication of another medical condition. Diabetics, for example, are more prone to dermatitis due to their more sensitive skin. Most skin diseases are not life-threatening, although some may suffer from anxiety issues as well as other stress-related issues due to lack of self-confidence as well as the constant discomfort.
How to Prevent NCDs
While some non-communicable diseases are not preventable due to several factors, you can do many things to minimize the chances of you getting conditions such as heart disease or some cancers, among others.
Perhaps most importantly, it is important to watch your weight and to eat healthily. Regular exercise is also a must to help boost the immune system as well as to maintain your weight. Mental health is also very important as stress releases hormones that may be harmful to the body.
By keeping your mind and body healthy, you can keep most NCDs at bay. This will allow you to live life at the fullest, and greatly adding more fruitful years to your life.