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Health challenges common to Children, Adults, Elderly

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Life is full of so many problems and challenges. Health challenges can be seen as a state in which one is unable to function normally and without pain.

Before we dig deep, lets first have detailed definitions of terms:

Table of Contents

What does a health challenge mean?

The term health challenge is used interchangeably with diseases or illnesses. Every human has health issues affecting the body system, and it is a deviation from the normal state of being healthy. Most common health issues in the world are as a result of human negligence to matters of the body system.

Definition of health

There are various definitions for health; one of which is the ability to manage and adapt to the physical, mental, and social challenges throughout life. Some examples of health challenges includes, Diabetes, Heart problems, Arthritis, Respiratory problems and illnesses such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, Kidney problems, Liver problems, Neural diseases or damage, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, Gastrointestinal problems such as colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, HIV-related illnesses, Cancer, Lymphoma, leukemia and other diseases related to blood and lymph tissues, Immune system disorders, including lupus, Sensory diseases or damage, including visual impairment, hearing loss, etc.

Classification of health challenges

Health challenges are classified into three, namely:

  1. The terminal illnesses
  2. Acute disease and
  3. Chronic disease.

Acute health challenges

Acute health challenges appear suddenly and go as quickly as they come; an example of this is a flu episode.

Chronic health challenges

Chronic health challenges are conditions that last for a long time, maybe a year or more. Chronic conditions most times require ongoing medical care and limiting daily activities; for example, diabetes.

Terminal health challenges

Terminal health challenges or end-stage diseases are diseases that are incurable and will likely cause the death of the sufferer. E.g., cancer or advanced heart diseases, etc.

Determinants and factors of health

A doctor holding a record file

The health history of an individual is usually taken based on the six components of health, they are, the physical health, social health, environmental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and mental health. Only after taking this health history that an individual can be said to have a health challenge.

In addition to the determinants, other vital factors have been found to influence whether people will develop a health challenge or not. These factors include social support networks, income, and social status, culture, education and literacy, gender, employment conditions, personal health practices, biology and genetics, and health care services.

Health challenges common to children

These are usually different from those of adults, cause of their weaker immune system, below are some health challenges more familiar to children:

1. Human orthopneumovirus

This virus was formerly known as Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It is a virus that causes respiratory tract infection. Human orthopneumovirus is usually the chief culprit in respiratory tracts infections in children, causing their parents or guardians to worry, resulting in frequent hospital visits.

Children below age two are most susceptible to this virus. South Australia Health says almost all children will be affected by an RSV infection, with the minimum occurrence being once by age two.

The signs and symptoms for RSV

These are minor, besides being similar to that of a common cold. Although for preterms, and babies born with a compromised immune system, or born sick with a heart or disease condition, RSV can escalate quickly to cause either pneumonia or bronchiolitis.

Mode of transmission of RSV

The virus spreads through the air, from the cough or sneeze droplets comprising of the infectious agents. Besides that, the RSV virus can also spread by contact with hands, and particles contaminated with throat and nose discharges.

Prevention of RSV

Practicing proper hygiene and sanitation is one way to keep this virus at bay, as the virus survives for a few hours outside the body. Most importantly, the RSV virus is killed quickly by disinfectants, even using soap and water can do the trick.

2. Ear Infections

The occurrence of ear infections is widespread in little children. In most cases, it resolves on its own, therefore, leaving the kids with healthy ears and normal hearing. Two types of ear infections are common, and they are the infections of the outer and middle ear.

Symptoms of an ear infection

The symptoms include trouble hearing, fever, pus breaking through the eardrum, fever e.t.c.

Management of an ear infection

These infections usually clear up without the use of antibiotics, depending on the child’s age. It is usually advisable to consult your doctor on the treatment plan to take. More especially if your ward or child has had an earache for more than 48 hours.

3. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is the infection of the bowel. This infection causes inflamed stomach and intestines, therefore causing diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. If there is vomiting, it usually decreases quickly. While diarrhea can persist for up to ten (10) days. Different germs cause gastroenteritis. A bacteria or virus causes the most common gastro infections.

Signs of Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis infection causes the little ones to lose their appetite, and not feel right. The affected child would not want to drink water, resulting in the child being dehydrated. Vomiting usually occurs within the first two (2) days of the infection.

Management and prevention of Gastroenteritis

It is often advised to keep the child’s fluid intake up. And, you should follow good sanitation practices by washing your hands regularly, especially when caring for the sick child.

4. The Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

The hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a disease caused by a virus. The virus causes blisters to appear on the feet, hands, nappy areas, and in the mouth of babies. Children easily spread this disease among themselves. HFMD virus is spread by direct contact with the fluid from the throat and nose discharges, skin blisters, feces, and other droplets. The blisters are usually infectious until they are dry with no fluids in them.

How to prevent HFMD

Good sanitation practice is needed to combat this disease and prevent its spread. In reality, after several weeks, the virus is still present in the feces,  even after the blisters are gone.

5. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is a common infection of the eye. Almost everyone has had an encounter with this infection while growing up. Maybe a friend, family member or you had it.

The symptoms of Conjunctivitis

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include inflammation, redness, and swelling of the eyes (conjunctiva). The infection is easily contracted by coming in contact with an infected person. Good hygiene practices can not be too much, and you should always encourage your child to wash hands and body after coming in contact, with an infected individual.

6. Asthma

Asthma is a health challenge that causes the bronchi to be inflamed. Therefore constricting the passage of air to the lungs. Asthma is a common childhood disease. Approximately one in four small kids will experience it.

Asthma a chronic health condition in children
A little girl being guided to use the inhaler by her mum

The symptoms and signs of asthma

Signs and symptoms of asthma include coughing, especially at night and the early hours of the morning, during exercise or strenuous activities. Wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Common triggers of an attack are; colds, exercise, changes in the weather, pets, pollen, cigarette smoke, e.t.c.

Treatment plan

A treatment plan is usually drawn up with the physician, as different individuals have different triggers.

Health challenges common to adolescents and young adults

Young adults and adolescents, most times live the wildlife. Because, the adolescent and young adult period is the time they get to explore, their bodies and their environments. Therefore they engage in reckless activities, that exposes them to several health challenges. Below are some of the diseases prevalent in this age category:

1. Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks and destroys the immune system of the body. The virus attacks the T-cells of the body explicitly. These are the body’s fighters or killers of invading pathogens, and infected cells. Because, of the attack on the T-cells, it becomes tough for the body to fight off disease, thereby making the sufferer very susceptible to various opportunistic infections. Engaging in unprotected sex and cuts from infected sharp objects, are ways in which one gets infected.

Safety precaution for HIV

Everyone should avoid the use of unsterilized sharp objects. Most times it is advised that the guys should have their clipper for their hair. Not only is this hygienic, but it is also protective. With the advancements in medicine, most people with HIV live healthy lives and go on to live an average life span.

Other infectious diseases:

Worthy of note is that young people live with the zeal for reckless abandonment. And like all things, it has its consequences.
Actions like having piercings and tattoos with sharp unsterilized objects can result in infections like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.
Having unprotected sex can lead to a host of sexually transmitted disease, such as;

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that affects women and men. It infects the cervix and the penile urethra, respectively. Symptoms include penis and vagina discharge, and pains when engaging in sexual activities. Most people with this disease do not usually show signs.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is also known as the clap. It infects the cervix and the penile urethra in women and men respectively.  Symptom includes a burning sensation when passing out urine. Additionally, for men, there is a green, yellow, or white discharge from the penis. Just like with chlamydia, most people with this STD, are not aware, as they do not show symptoms.

Syphilis

A bacteria, called Treponema pallidum cause syphilis. It is a common STD; besides that, it leads to very severe complications if left untreated.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common STD with its occurrence more common in women than men. Most importantly, women mistake this infection to be bacterial vaginosis infection or yeast infection. Because, they have similar signs and symptoms; these symptoms include strong smell coming from the vaginal, irritation, frothy discharge, itching, and painful sex.

2. Alcohol and drugs

Not a health challenge, but its abuse leads to several health challenges and injuries, even death.

Abuse of drugs leads to mental health challenges for the individual. Besides that, alcohol abuse is harmful and is a significant health concern in most countries. The abuse of alcohol leads to reduced self-control, leading to a host of infections and diseases along the way.

Misuse of alcohol and drugs also leads to behaviors, and acts of violence, such as reckless driving and fights, resulting in injuries and death.

Health challenges common to those in their 40’s

It is around age 40 that mid-life crisis usually sets in. Probably, because one begins to look back and think of things one could have done differently. Or one wants to explore other avenues for happiness. In addition, to a lot of things people in their 40’s go through. They also go through some health challenges or health decline, peculiar to this age group. Below are some of them:

1. Chronic pain

As one age, the risk for back pain, arthritis, and tendonitis increases. So, one can take steps to reduce and avoid these things by practicing a healthy lifestyle of exercise and appropriate nutrition.

Health issues concerning chronic pain in the knee
A patient suffering from chronic pain of the kneel

2. Osteoporosis

When one approaches age 40 and beyond, the maximum bone density and strength declines. This makes one susceptible to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease condition in which the bone becomes porous and fragile. And, this bone loss makes one prone to fractures and other complications. There is usually no symptom until the first fracture occurs. Besides, the risk for this condition is higher for women who have passed menopause.

3. Sexual and reproductive health challenge

Sexual and reproductive health is an essential aspect of health, and it is usually on the decline in the 40s and beyond. Common health challenges of sexual dysfunction prevalent as one age include erectile dysfunction and female sexual dysfunction.

Ages at which males and females experience sexual and reproductive health challenge

Males in their 40’s can start to experience symptoms of sexual dysfunction that includes an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), and testosterone deficiency. Fifty percent of males within the ages of 40-49 are affected by occasional impotence.

Females in their forties, start experiencing pre-menopause symptoms; such as irritability and hot flashes.

Health challenges facing the elderly

problems of the elderly
An elderly patient with a caregiver

Getting old is a normal and natural phenomenon. But, it is a natural phenomenon that can seem daunting to most people, the greying hair, getting wrinkled and being forgetful. Besides the physical changes, aging comes along with its health challenges. Below are some of the health challenges faced by the elderly:

1. Chronic health challenge

The National Council on Aging USA says that about 92% of the elderly population is suffering from at least one persistent health challenge. And, 77% suffering from at least two chronic health conditions. The chronic conditions that the elderly suffer from include cancer, stroke, osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease.

2. Cognitive health challenge

Cognitive health of an individual has to do with the individual’s ability to learn, think, and remember. Dementia is the most common cognitive health challenge of the elderly, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form of dementia.

The National Institute on Aging, USA, says other chronic health challenges such as depression, diabetes, HIV, and hypertension, usually increases the odds for developing dementia.

3. Bladder control and constipation health challenges

Constipation and urinary incontinence are quite common challenges with the elderly. These challenges can impact the quality an elderly will have. These health challenges can also arise as side-effects or as accompanying conditions to chronic conditions, in addition to the health challenges stemming from changes related to aging.

General guidelines for coping with a chronic health challenges

Chronic conditions cause significant impacts on individuals suffering from it. There are two ways to deal with this; it’s either you sit back and let the disease rule your life. Or, you get up, and take charge of your life, and manage the disease. If you choose the latter, the following strategies will help maintain the chronic condition:

1. Get acquainted with the disease

The more information you know about the condition. The more equipped you will be to handle it as you will understand, why it is happening and what is happening. The first place to seek information about your health is from your physician or nurse. If you want a more in-depth knowledge of the condition, you could ask them to direct you to trusted and reliable sources of medical information online or offline. Or better still, contact us at healthweakness.com with your complaints for quicker recommendations.

You could also ask to be connected with support groups, as they can relate to what you are going through, and provide emotional support. These support groups also help to keep depression at bay, as they look after one another, share challenges faced, and what they are doing about it.                                              

2. Make a sound investment in your life

Invest in a lifestyle change and reap the reward. A lifestyle change is usually part of the treatment for a most chronic condition. Sometimes an extreme lifestyle change like going raw vegan or practicing intermittent fasting can help keep the disease and its symptoms at bay. The lifestyle changes encouraged are the healthy ones, that involves no smoking, incorporating exercise routines to your life, eating healthy, and losing weight.                                                                                              

3. Let your family be involved

Your family also feels the pain and stress the condition is causing you. And they wish it could all go away. So do not be so selfish to leave them out of your care, they should know what is happening at every step of the way. Your family should also be aware of your lifestyle changes so they can support you.  And, maybe embrace the same healthy lifestyle with you.

CONCLUSION

As you go through this life journey, you will encounter a health challenge at one point or the other. And, this would mean adjusting to essential changes in your life: Changes in symptoms or pain, Changes in physical activities and lifestyle, and Changes in how you depend on other people. These changes can be very stressful and challenging. The way you go about handling these changes will make a significant difference in how you feel.

ARE YOU A LOVER OF PETS? IF YES, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS TOO: DOG BACK PAIN: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON HEALTH CHALLENGES

What are the six components of health?

The six components of health are physical health, social health, environmental health, emotional health, spiritual health, and mental health.

What factors predispose one to have an acute, chronic, or terminal health challenge?

risk factor is any exposure, characteristic, or behavior of an individual that increases the probability or likelihood of developing a health challenge. Some examples of these risk factors are: being underweight, or overweight (obesity), being physically inactive, practicing unsafe sex, consumption of alcohol and tobacco, unsafe sanitary practices, high s blood pressure, and lots more.

What is the classification of risk factors on the individual level?

For individuals, the classification of the risk factors are:

  • Risk factors based on backgrounds, such as sex, age, and level of education.
  • Hereditary risk factors.
  • Risk factors based on behavior and lifestyle, such as consumption of tobacco and alcohol, unhealthy diet, engaging in unprotected sex and physical inactivity.
  • Intermediary risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, elevated blood lipids, and high blood pressure.

What is the classification of risk factors on the community level?

On a community level, the risk factors are:

  • Economic and social conditions, such as family composition, and standard of living.
  • Environmental factors, such as exposure to hazards and pollution.
  • Cultural practices, norms, and values.
  • Urbanization: this influences housing, access to products, and living conditions.

How to reduce one’s risk factors for diseases?

The risk factors, such as our sex, age, genetic make-up, cannot be modified, but our behavioral and lifestyle risk factors can be changed, as well as several intermediate biological factors which include high blood lipids and being at an unhealthy weight.

Physical, economic, and societal conditions indirectly affect the biological risk factors, as they influence and shape the behavior of an individual.

Several pieces of research give evidence that indicates the prevention of diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease, colon cancer, smoking-related cancers, and some other diseases and infections that arise from unsafe sanitary practices. This prevention is achievable by making realistic modifications and changes to lifestyle and diet.

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