Lifestyle Disorder

Introduction

In the recent times, there is an increasing incidence of diseases such as  hypertension, diabetes, cardio vascular diseases, behavioral problems, high cholesterol, obesity affecting  even the younger people. Despite increasing health awareness, more than half of the people in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and Chennai suffer from diabetes.   The changed living habits due to increasing job requirement, sedentary lifestyle and competitive living are the main culprits coming in the way of golden rules of good living. People who fall victims to this new phenomenon get trapped with certain diseases at a younger age. 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. 
 
People who eat a high calorie diet without adequate exercise are in greater danger of lifestyle disorders. Better living conditions and enhanced health care facilities have increased the longevity of people. 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. 
 
According to the National Family Health Survey, 13 percent of women and 9 percent of men in India are overweight or obese. Obesity increases the chance of other lifestyle disorders. Death rate due to ischemic heart disease in India is 165.8 per 100,000 population. Around 116.4 per 100, 000 people in India die due to cerebro-vascular diseases. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among males as well as females.
 
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. They are the major cause of adult mortality and illness worldwide. 
 
 

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. There is yet another important problem of the modern world. That is poor exposure to sun light and fresh air. 
 
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. 
 
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 factors, your physical activity etc decide on how soon you are likely to land up in any one of the lifestyle disorders. 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.
 
Heart disease is not a single disorder or condition. It refers to a group of diseases or problems in which the heart or the vessels supplying blood to the heart are damaged and are not able to function in a normal way. Heart diseases are quite common in young adults, mainly because of sedentary lifestyle and wrong eating habits. Most people do not show any symptoms of heart diseases before they reach their 50 or 60 years. 
 
The most common cause of heart diseases is atherosclerosis and hypertension/high blood pressure. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which there is deposition of cholesterol and fatty substances on the walls of arteries, while hypertension is the increase of blood pressure in the arteries due various reasons.
 
Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary diseases and lung cancer have direct co-relation with smoking. Chronic liver diseases are linked to alcoholism and eating food with less protein and vitamins.
 
Oral cancer is attributed to smoking and tobacco chewing. 
 
Though there are various causative factors for Diabetes, the major attributing factor is over eating starchy food containing sugar and carbohydrate, stress and inadequate physical exercise. Obesity is another lifestyle problem due to same causes. Osteoporosis is another major health hazard these days. It is due to inadequate exposure to sun and eating food with less vitamins and minerals. It is ironical that in a country with full of sunshine, people do not get the benefit of natural protection.  Lastly, stress is a common cause of sleep disorders and conditions like Anxiety. 
 
References

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.  It 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.
 
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) may not show appreciable symptoms until significant lung damage has occurred, and they usually worsen over time.  Periodic episodes of cough that you have at least three months a year for two consecutive years is a characteristic feature of Chronic Bronchitis which is part of COPD. Other signs and symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, especially during physical activities, wheezing, chest tightness, having to clear the throat in the morning, chronic cough that produces sputum that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish; blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis), frequent respiratory infections, lack of energy and  unintended weight loss. People with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse and persist for days or longer.
 
Symptoms of 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. Many people may have one or more of these to begin with. Whenever there is any of the above, it is better to consult the Physician and take his advice.
 
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))
 
References

Diagonosis

Lifestyle disorders are a group of diseases. Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, malignant and other neoplasms, chronic low back pain, hyperlipidemia are some of diseases grouped under this category.  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. 
 
The extent of COPD is revealed through pulmonary function tests and Chest X ray. X ray chests, Spirometry are the GOLD Standard for the diagnosis of COPD 
 
Ultrasound, and Liver Function test (LFT) are useful for revealing the function of liver.  For evaluating the functioning of heart, routine ECG, Cardiac profiling like tread mill and Angiogram are done.  Osteoporosis is diagnosed by estimating Serum calcium, X ray and bone densitometry.
 
The investigations required in hypertension are urine analysis for understanding the involvement of Kidney such as Albumin, hyaline cast, Funduscopy to understand the status of retina.
 
ECG and Chest X ray may give a fair idea about the functioning and status of Left ventricle.
 
Body Mass Index measurement is the easy way to assess the obesity.
 
References:
 

Complications

Lifestyle disorders have its own course of complications, if not properly attended in time. Enormous burden is added to the national exchequer due to the requirement of long treatment and the havoc of its complications.
 
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. 
 
Excess sugar injures the walls of small blood vessels causing tingling, numbness, burning sensation or pain at the tips of the toes or fingers. If untreated the patients lose sense of feeling in the affected limbs. 
 
For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction. 
 
Diabetes can damage kidneys leading to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant. 
 
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.
 
Hearing problems is another complication in diabetic patients. 
 
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) and neurological symptoms associated with hypertension. Hypertension may also cause hypertensive retinopathy and uremia.
 
Respiratory failure is the commonest complication of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) which is characterised with difficulty of breathing, cyanosis, confusion of mind and frequent lung infections.
 
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. Alcoholism can also cause   inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) as well as stomach and may cause esophageal ulcers. It also can interfere with absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients, damage your pancreas and cause  pancreatitis.  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. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of 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, gallstones,   osteoarthritis and infertility or irregular periods.
 
References

Management

The good thing is most of the lifestyle disorders are reversible by fine tuning the lifestyle. Healthy diet and moderate exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Also, the disorders are treatable if detected early. It has become imperative to check the disorders at early age.  We need to check health profile regularly. Few basic changes include quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, having a balanced diet that includes fresh vegetables and fruits, regular physical activity and leading a stress-free life.

As lifestyle disorders  are slow in onset and progression, it may not be possible to detect them early. Once detected, long continued medication may become necessary.  An expert consultation, early diagnosis, change in lifestyle and medication specific to the underlying diseases are very important in lifestyle disorders.

Homeopathy gives importance to the individual constitution. There are certain type of personality who are inherently lethargic, avoid exercise, prone for addictions, obesity etc. If their constitutional traits are identified early and given constitutional remedies, to a great extent these people can escape from the burden of serious illness. There are certain diseases like Diabetes, which has traits of family inheritance. Homeopathy can be of great benefit to the children of the parents with such diseases provided  remedies for the constitutional corrections are  taken and moderation in lifestyle are adopted.

Prevention is the better way to maintain good health in this busy world.

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.  Enjoy your food.
  • 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. Consult your Physcian for necessary investigations to understand the underlying cause if any and specific medication, if necessary.

References
timesofindia.indiatimes.com
www.healthsmart.co.in
www.thehealthsite.com
www.hilady.in
www.thehealthsite.com

  • PUBLISHED DATE : Sep 24, 2015
  • PUBLISHED BY : NHP CC DC
  • CREATED / VALIDATED BY : NHP Admin
  • LAST UPDATED ON : Sep 24, 2015

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