While everyone will inevitably die someday, logic would dictate that we delay it for as long as possible. However, due to genetics, lifestyle choices, or a variety of other reasons, we may find ourselves sick one day. Chronic conditions are the worst as they cost a lot with regards to treatment and greatly diminishes one’s quality of living.
According to the Australian Department of Health, one in two Australian have at least one chronic disease, while about a quarter has two or more at the same time. Chronic diseases include but are not limited to the following:
- Heart Disease
- Respiratory Diseases
- Mental Illness
This article aims to discuss the most common diseases experienced by Australians, as well as the factors that put them on risk. The purpose of this article is to inform the people on what they can do to prevent or delay these conditions from occurring to themselves or their loved ones.
Cancer is one of the most common diseases in Australia, and it also accounts for the largest financial burdens in terms of health care. The reason for this is that cancer refers to a diverse range of diseases, the most common of which in the country are breast, prostate, and lung cancer.
Australia also has the highest cases of mesothelioma in the world. Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of cancer typically associated with exposure to asbestos. It was estimated that around 50,000 people died of cancer in 2018, with around 8,300 deaths attributable to lung cancer and its complications.
Heart Disease and Strokes
Heart disease and strokes are the number one killers in Australia. Heart disease affects 1 in 6 people older than 75, while around 400,000 people have experienced at least one stroke in their lifetime. In 2016, around 18,000 people died due to heart disease, while 27 people out of 100,000 people died in the same year due to strokes.
While the death rates for these two diseases have fallen in recent years due to advances in health care, it is disconcerting as these diseases are also being much more common to younger people. Factors such as obesity, an unhealthy diet, and a sedentary lifestyle are often to blame.
Mental Health Issues
Mental illnesses, in this case, pertain to both psychological and neurological disorders. The latter includes those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the former of which claimed 11,000 lives in 2016. These conditions attack almost 10% of the population who are 65 years and older in Australia.
Psychological disorders that are most common in the country are PTSD, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Those who have come from the army, homosexuals and bisexuals, as well as younger people are more susceptible to these conditions. Causes of death for psychological problems include suicide and overdoses.
Respiratory problems occur due to a number of reasons. Genetics, upper or lower respiratory infections, exposure to pollution and irritants, and smoking are the main contributing factors to people acquiring conditions such as asthma, emphysema, and COPD.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused over 7,000 deaths in 2016, while it is estimated that 1 out of ten children under the age of 14 is suffering from asthma. Fortunately, though, the average age of people when they first tried out cigarettes is dropping, and the average number of smokers has also decreased over the years.
Musculoskeletal problems include arthritis, osteoporosis, and general back or joint pain. A staggering 33% of the population is said to be afflicted with one form of chronic pain or another, with the elderly being the most susceptible. In some cases, accidents can also cause musculoskeletal problems to otherwise healthy individuals.
While not life threatening, musculoskeletal problems pose a heavy burden to the country as it was ranked as the fourth highest disease burden. It also greatly diminishes quality of life and decreases productivity, resulting in reduced means of livelihood.
It was estimated that five percent of Australians had diabetes in 2018. This accounts to over 1.2 million total cases. Unfortunately, it is assumed that many more are undiagnosed. This disease affects the kidneys and causes various complications within the body. It is also known to contribute to a tenth of the total deaths in the country in 2016.
Aside from being a life threatening disease, it also places a heavy burden on the patient financially. Those with end stage diabetes will require dialysis regularly, and this treatment is reported to be the number one reason why people go to the hospital. Consuming too much sugar is the number one reason for diabetes.
While some diseases are hereditary, other factors that are actually controllable can put you at high risk of contracting diseases. One of the most important risk factors is being overweight. Excess pounds will cause inflammation, making you more susceptible to diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
On the other hand, a person will also be more likely to contract a disease due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol will damage specific organs as well as lead to further complications. An unhealthy diet and not doing regular exercise are also contributing factors.
Other risk factors would include exposure to smoke and irritants, such as working in or living around a factory with poor environmental procedures, malnutrition, as well as old age.
There is a big chance that you will be afflicted with chronic diseases during your lifetime. However, you can try your best to prevent this from happening by trying to reduce risk factors and living a healthy lifestyle. You should also try to avoid smoking and other harmful habits in order to prevent disease.
Living healthily and protecting your mental health through meditative exercises can really help improve your physical and mental well-being. This will help you fight off diseases as well as prevent the onset of chronic conditions further down the line.
A healthy body will definitely lessen the burden on the Australian health care system. Individually, it will also increase life expectancy, productivity, as well as improve the current overall quality of life.