There are a bevy of reasons that put people at risk of getting chronic diseases after the age of 40 ranging from poor lifestyle, accumulated stress levels, unhealthy eating habits, weakened immune system, hormonal changes to name a few. Experts say that certain health problems that affected people at a much later age a few decades back are now hitting early on and people must take steps to take things under control by getting regular health check-ups and take remedial measures.
Dr. Ravi Kumar, MD, RV Metropolis Diagnostic & Healthcare Centre Pvt. Ltd. talks about the top health problems that people in India post the age of 40 are suffering from.
Diabetes occurs when our body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use the insulin the way it should and that causes an increase in the blood sugar level. When we eat, the food is turned into glucose or sugar so that the body can use it as energy. A hormone called insulin, created by pancreas - an organ near our stomach - helps process the glucose into energy. However, when it doesn't function properly, the condition is called diabetes.
Diabetes is no doubt the most common ailment that people over 40 suffer from. India has an alarming 77 million diabetics, the second highest number of diabetes cases in the world, with China leading the pack with 116 million diabetics.
There are several factors that can contribute to your increased chances of getting Diabetes.
- Due to the increasing stress with age
- Strong genetic factors
- Faulty lifestyle
Almost one in six people in the world with diabetes are from India and the numbers are only growing with each passing year.
As people grow old, they are at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes due to
- Increase in insulin resistance
- Impaired pancreatic islet function
Symptoms of Diabetes
- Losing weight
- Increased thirst or hunger
- Increased urination
- Skin infections
- Slow healing of wounds
- Blurred vision
Diagnosis & Treatment
- Home blood glucose testing
- Oral medication and insulin
- Insulin injections
According to Dr. Kumar, another disease that is catching up fast along with Diabetes is Thyroid problem.
"Earlier, there weren't so many cases. In the early 90s, I used to see very few cases like 5-6 in a month. Today we are getting 800-1000 people coming for thyroid tests per day probably because of increased awareness about the condition," adds the doctor.
Around 1 in 8 women get affected by a thyroid condition at some point in their lives. The risk for women is about 10 times higher than for men. While the problem is more prevalent in women in their late 40s, due to a variety of factors like lifestyle changes, women aged 39-40 are increasingly reporting cases of Thyroid. Stress also contributes majorly to this health condition and as you grow old it impacts you more.
Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in our body located in the front of the neck that regulates thyroid hormones that control metabolism in the body. Metabolism is process that transforms the food into energy which is used by the body to perform many of its functions.
There are two conditions associated with Thyroid:
In hypothyroidism which is much more common than the other condition, the thyroid doesn't work properly.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain
- Slow reflexes
When the thyroid is making more thyroid hormone than required, the metabolism of the body gets affected and it starts to use your energy too quickly. This condition is called hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Losing weight
- Trouble falling asleep
- Muscle weakness
You are more at risk of thyroid disease if:
- You have a family history of it
- If you are older than 60
- If you have an existing medical condition like Anemia, Type 1 Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis etc
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests
- Physical examination
- Anti-thyroid drugs
- Radioactive iodine:
- Beta blockers
- Thyroid replacement medication
Given the sedentary lifestyle and food habits coupled with stress, high blood pressure also referred to as hypertension is becoming quite common especially among those above 40 years of age. When blood pressure consistently remains high it could potentially raise the risk of heart failure. It adds to the possibility of stroke, kidney failure, vision loss and many other complications. Not without reason, high blood pressure is also referred to as silent killer.
Its early detection is therefore could lower several health risks. Those with excess weight and habit of smoking are at increased risk of hypertension. Experts advise diet modification to minimize deal with high blood pressure and associated problems. Doctors recommend food high in fibre and low in fat and salt for those suffering from high blood pressure.
"People need to be more mindful of the health condition. I have seen people with 70-80 age who come with renal failure due to high BP that has been lingering on and they have not taken medicines," says Dr. Kumar
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nose bleeds
- Chest pain
How to Manage Blood Pressure
- Lose Weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eat healthy
- Reduce sodium intake
- Quit smoking
- Reduce Stress
- Cut Caffeine
Age is one of the factors of slipping into depression. As you grow old and your productivity diminishes or you lose any family member, friends, or spouse, the chances of getting the disease increases.
"After 40, it may happen that people who are doing well in their careers, or the change in their physical appearance can get anxiety or depression. Depression cases are increasing in India, but they are not as widely reported as they should be," says Dr. Kumar.
Women were more likely than men to suffer from depression especially post menopause, there is a change in hormones.
Depression or major depressive disorder causes feeling of sadness or worthlessness and the person suffering from it loses interest in daily activities. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It affects your moods and how you think and act.
- Feeling sad
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Change in appetite
- Sleep problems (sleeping too little or too much)
- Loss of energy
- Suicidal thoughts
Dr. Kumar says that once you reach the age of 40, it is important to not only get early diagnosis but also maintain a healthy lifestyle but also keeping the stress levels down. Most of these health problems are lifestyle-related, and it is important to nip these problems in bud.