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Spotting signs of chronic conditions

dementia-illustration
Written by Healthy Living

Many illnesses can be controlled with early diagnosis, so be on the lookout for symptoms.

Story: Lee Dover

Your health can be negatively affected by many different illnesses and conditions. Luckily, recognizing the symptoms early can help manage or prevent long-term damage to poor health.

Here are symptoms for six common conditions:

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Diabetes

When the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, diabetes is the result. Type 2 diabetes is the result of the pancreas not using insulin effectively. The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the United States was estimated at 30.3 million in 2015, with older adults susceptible to developing it with age.

Early diagnosis, treatment, and effective control of diabetes are vital to reduce the risk of the body developing serious complications.

Common signs of diabetes include being very thirsty, the need to urinate more often, especially at night, losing weight unexpectedly, and feeling fatigued. Also, note if any cuts and wounds take longer to heal, blurred vision is experienced, and genital itching or thrush is encountered.

The American Diabetes Association has guides on the treatment and care available .

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Dementia

Dementia refers to a number of brain disorders causing a decline of brain function. The conditions often progress to severe. According to a report by BrainTest, at least 5 million people across the United States are living with a form of age-related dementia.

There isn’t a cure for any type of dementia now. However, the number of deaths from the condition would be halved if onset of dementia was delayed five years.

Dementia affects people in different ways. Common early symptoms include suffering memory loss or having difficulty concentrating. Difficulty carrying out familiar daily tasks—such as getting confused when trying to sort out the correct change when shopping—and struggle to follow a conversation or find the right word when speaking to someone. Individuals can be confused about the time and place where they are, too, and have mood changes.

Be especially aware of signs specifically related to Alzheimer’s disease, since the Alzheimer’s Association says this condition is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Symptoms related specifically to Alzheimer’s disease include individuals becoming confused in unfamiliar environments, having problems with memory, and repetitively asking questions. Other common symptoms include increased difficulty completing tasks or activities requiring planning or organization, as well as becoming anxious or withdrawn.

Worried that someone close to you has signs related to a type of dementia? Support is available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

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Arthritis

Arthritis occurs when the tissue inside the joints breaks down. The result is inflammation, pain, and restricted movement of the area of the body concerned—as well as apparent weakness within the joints affected. Around 54 million adults  are diagnosed with arthritis in the United States, according to conservative estimates from the Arthritis Foundation, with individuals of all ages affected.

Though there isn’t a cure, treatments are available that can slow the condition’s damage.

Signs include fatigue accompanied by a general feeling of ill health, as well as stiffness in the morning that lasts from a few minutes to several hours. Be aware of stiffness in one or more of the body’s smaller joints, too, and mild inflammation, which may cause surrounding tendons and ligaments to become unstable or deformed. Range of motion may also be decreased, and this may be accompanied by a low-grade fever.

The Arthritis Foundation has information and resources available.

For further information visit www.acornstairlifts.com

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Breast cancer

The United States’ most common form of cancer is breast cancer. Breastcancer.org estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women across the nation in 2018 alone. While it is most common in women, men may be diagnosed with breast cancer, too.

If breast cancer is detected at an early stage, it can be treated to avoid spreading. Surgery often is the first treatment, followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or, in some instances, biological or hormone treatments.

The initial noticeable sign of breast cancer is usually a lump or section of thickened tissue that develops around a breast. It’s important to underline that while many lumps around the breast are benign, it’s wise to get all of them checked by a doctor.

Other symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Pain around the breasts.
  • One or both breasts changing in shape or size.
  • Dimpling on the skin of the breasts.
  • Discharge, which might be streaked with blood, from either nipple.
  • A rash on or around the nipple.
  • The appearance of the nipple changing, perhaps becoming sunken into the breast. 
  • A a lump or swelling in either armpit.

Concerned about breast cancer? Check out the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Screening Guidelines for help.

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Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, behind only skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. 

Men with prostate cancer may not need immediate treatment. A doctor may suggest “active surveillance” or “watchful waiting” if it is early stage and not causing symptoms. However, some cases can be treated if spotted in early stages—with radiation therapy (either standalone or alongside hormone therapy) or by surgically removing the prostate.

However, symptoms may not be visible in the early stages due to how the cancer grows. However, if the disease is close to the urethra, the tube in a man’s body that urine flows through, initial symptoms appear because the growth may press against the urethra and change how urination flows. Possible changes include difficulty starting urination or emptying the bladder, a weak flow when urinating, or if it feels the bladder has not properly emptied. Also, dribbling urine after urinating ended, as well as a sudden urge to urinate or frequent urination, especially at night.

Be aware that it is more likely that changes in the way a person urinates may be associated with an enlarged prostate—a non-cancerous problem—or a completely different health issue. No matter what, it’s wise to see a doctor if any of the above changes are detected.

Prostate cancer often originates in a different part of the prostate than close to the urethra. However, the cancer can break out of the gland or spread to other parts of the bod. Signs that indicate this include pain in the hips; pelvis or back, blood being evident in either semen or urine; weight loss that can’t be explained; and issues with either getting or keeping an erection.

The American Cancer Society has information about tests for prostate cancer available on its website.

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Osteoporosis

Developing gradually over time, osteoporosis is a condition weakening bones. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, around 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, with another 44 million individuals having low bone density, which places them at increased risk.

Look for these three signs for osteoporosis: 

  • Multiple osteoporotic fractures in the spine that cause the back to lose its normal curvature. It creates a stooped back and loss of height as vertebral bones begin to weaken and collapse.
  • Sudden or intense back pain from doing something small, such as bending over to tie a shoe.
  • Fractures suffered after a minor incident, such as slipping on the pavement or even making a sudden movement.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation produces a guide for treatment options.


About the author

Healthy Living

Healthy Living is unique in a sea of health magazines that only present information on nutrition and exercise. Published by Akers Media Group, Healthy Living goes much farther by focusing on the four pillars of a true wellness — physical, mental, spiritual and financial health.

Healthy Living promotes a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle with easy-to-read features, try-it-at-home exercise programs, and expert advice from financial planners, mental health professionals, and a variety of other leaders in their respective fields.

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