Here’s a beginner's guide to the most common chronic diseases in Singapore and how to manage them.
Singaporeans have been maintaining a positive health record, given their impressive life expectancy rate of 83.1 years.
Despite this, many Singaporeans still have to deal with chronic diseases, or long-term medical conditions that generally get worse over time. In fact, chronic diseases are a significant cause of illness and death in Singapore. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common ones — and how to deal with them.
1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD refers to chronic respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In this condition, airflow to the lungs is obstructed, which in turn interferes with normal breathing. If someone you know is always coughing or out of breath, he may be suffering from COPD. Smoking is the most common cause, but air pollution or poor working conditions, too, may be the cause. If left unchecked, these seemingly harmless coughs could lead to complications, such as pneumonia and an increased risk of heart failure.
Prevention: It is difficult to run away from air pollution, since Singapore is essentially one big city, but smoking is a habit that you can quit. Even if you have fairly advanced COPD, giving up cigarettes may help prevent the condition from worsening.
Did you know that one in nine Singaporeans between 18 and 69 years old is affected by diabetes? In fact, we have the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations.
Diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose levels remain persistently higher than normal, and its causes may be due to ageing, unhealthy diet and/or lack of exercise. If left unmanaged, diabetes in any form may develop into coronary heart disease or kidney disease.
Prevention: A healthy diet and regular physical activity may be the best ways to prevent the onset of the condition.
Right up there with diabetes and COPD is hypertension, which affects one in four Singapore residents aged 30 to 69 years old. Between 60 and 69 years old, the number rises to more than one in two.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is when blood is pumped around the body at too high a pressure. The tricky part is that, in 95 percent of the cases, the cause of hypertension is unknown. For the remaining five percent, causes for hypertension include kidney disease, narrowing of certain blood vessels or hormonal imbalance. Making things more complicated is the fact that hypertension is often known as the “silent killer”, because it gives no symptoms beyond headaches or giddiness. However, complications could include coronary heart disease or stroke.
Prevention: Regular check-ups are a must. Like diabetes prevention, a balanced diet and regular physical activity go a long way in reducing the odds of developing hypertension. On top of that, limiting alcohol intake and curbing smoking habits are essential.
Start practising a healthier lifestyle today. Living healthier can help prevent chronic diseases, but it is still important to ensure you are prepared for anything. Learn how to manage potential healthcare costs
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