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Common Diseases Found Among Old People in Nigeria and Their Prevention

Look around your homes and social gatherings, it's almost impossible to find older adults without one or two senile disorders or complications. The older we get, the weaker the entire system and organ systems of our body. There are reductions in respiratory functions, visual acuity, the way or manner at which our brain functions, muscle contractions, strength, and endurance.

Most likely, the immune system becomes so weak that the diseases we have listed below,  along with other diseases,  begin to manifest. Sometimes our immune or defensive systems attack our body itself and result in autoimmune diseases. E.g diabetes mellitus which will be discussed subsequently in this article.

Some diseases found in older adults cannot be cured, because of the decline in our body physiology as we age, these diseases appear normally in old people. However, our youthful lifestyles, our environment, and our lifestyle during such advanced periods contributes directly, or indirectly to the manifestations of the disorders listed in brevity below. 

Hypertension

This can be described as a persistent increase in blood pressure above the normal level (120/90 mmHg). A temporal increase in your blood pressure is not hypertension, the level of increase has to be compared to the duration of the abnormality. Blood pressure from 139/89 mmHg is diagnosed hypertensive.

Blood is pumped by the heart at a force or pressure into our blood vessels. The increase in this force of pumping could be as a result of smoking, chronic alcoholism, excessive weight gain, emotional stress etc.

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Hypertension is commonly suffered by older adults who are currently engaging themselves in the above mentioned criteria, or have previously engaged in them during their youthful age.

Treatment of hypertension

The best way to treat hypertension is by lifestyle modifications. Engage in daily exercise, there is no permanent cure for hypertension. consumption of fruits and vegetables is encouraged. Eating highly proteinous or carbohydrate foods increases their concentration in blood and slows down the rate at which blood is pumped vigorously, its also increase the workload of the heart in pumping out these blood. 

Drugs can be taken to relieve oneself from hypertension, but almost every drug, if not all, have their side effects.

Salty or spicy foods are not recommended. 

Engagement in social activities also ameliorate cases of high blood pressure or hypertension caused by emotional stress or anxiety. 

Stroke

This is one of the commonest diseases associated with ageing.

As we grow older,  the blood vessels supplying blood and nutrients to different parts of the body begin to rupture or may lose their elasticity and fail to transport blood properly.

Sometimes a blood vessel may be blocked completely or partially, wherever the supply ought to reach, a stroke (paralysis) is elicited. 

Chances of developing stroke increases as we age, although most causes of stroke are chronic alcoholism, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and heredity. 

Whether it's ischemic stroke (blockage of blood supply to the brain), hemorrhagic stroke (leaking or rupture of blood vessels), stroke is life threatening. 

Treatment of stroke

Treatment involves use of drugs, diet modifications, and avoidance of the listed causes.

Cancer 

Although there are numerous kinds of cancers, each is characterized by abnormal growth of cells (tumours) in different areas of the body.

A modification in the DNA of our cells can result in cancer.

Cancers may be caused by unhealthy activities (smoking, alcoholism, sedentary lifestyle,obesity drugs, etc) you engage in during your youthful age, but it takes a long time to develop and is likely to manifest at old age.

Symptoms of cancer include fatigue, difficulty in breathing, swallowing, and food digestion, there are numerous symptoms depending on the type of cancer or area affected.

Treatment of Cancer

Cancerous cells can be removed by surgical operations, drugs can be prescribed by your doctor to help kill such cells, or by means  of radiation therapy.

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a common disease caused by persistent high levels of carbohydrates, proteinous and fatty foods consumption. 

Thus, the hormone called insulin which is responsible for the absorption of glucose from the food we eat either falls to function completely, or becomes "insensitive" to food, hence there are high levels of such glucose in the bloodstream - medically called hyperglycemia. 

Current studies show about 8% of the older adults in Nigeria have diabetes mellitus: with males having higher prevalence than females. 

The reason behind the increasing number of people with diabetes may be as a result of a sedentary lifestyle among Nigerian parents. Of course, obesity,  one of the major causes of diabetes mellitus, is very high in the country. 

For some people,  there are families with a history of diabetes mellitus in their family. Your doctor may be kind enough to explain to you that there are people born without the hormone called leptin, responsible for telling us we have eaten to our satisfaction. 

When this hormone is absent, one may may consume large carbohydrates foods and thus, increases glucose levels in the blood until it impairs insulin function, resulting to type 2 diabetes mellitus

Treatment of diabetes mellitus. 

There are thousands of researches carried out on diabetes mellitus annually, yet scientists are yet to find a permanent cure for it.

Management of the disease includes little exercise, low carbohydrate foods consumption, quit alcoholism and smoking,  and drugs.

Arthritis

It appears like a norm to see older adults who cannot run, walk, or stand on a queue for 15 mins, some adults may retire or lose their jobs because they can no longer more their limbs properly or without feeling pain, this disgusting agony resulting from wearing or tear of ligament, (a tough tissue that connects two bones together) cartilage, (a flexible tissue found in between joint that prevents friction between two or more bones) and tendons (tissue connecting bones to muscles).

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Occupations that involve carrying a heavy load or working in unbalanced posture can increase risk of arthritis. 

Treatment of Arthritis

It's advisable to engage in regular exercise,  avoid too much rest and carry heavy weights.

There are numerous ways to treat the disease, your doctor or health personnel will recommend the best for you after examination and diagnosis.

General treatments of arthritis include drugs, supplements. Regular acute exercise and surgery. However, arthritis can only be managed and not cured. It is advised that Patients lessen activities such as walking, running or hard labour or replace them with use of machines to reduce stress. You can board a taxi or a wheelchair depending on the type and depth of the deformity. 

Surgeries are also recommended though highly expensive. 

The above remedies can help reduce pain in joints and tend to reverse such disorders to normal body function.

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