Chronic diseases are an unwelcome and unpleasant part of getting older. Thankfully, there are several ways of treating the more common chronic diseases that make them more manageable in everyday life. One such way is through taking medication.
The Definition of Chronic Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic disease is defined as any persistent illness that is not resolved naturally and is unlikely to be completely cured. Unfortunately, just about anyone can be prone to chronic illness depending on age, genetics, and even gender. In fact, 80% of adults 65 years old and older suffer from at least one chronic condition. Meanwhile, 68% of that same group has two or more co-occurring chronic conditions.
Common Chronic Diseases in Older Adults
This is probably one of the most dreaded common chronic diseases among the older population. Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that causes cognitive deterioration. This results in:
- difficulty concentrating
- retrograde memory loss
- decreased capacity in problem-solving
Alzheimer’s may be common, but it is certainly not a normal part of aging. In fact, the biggest risk factors for the condition are ones that are outside of your control, like genetics. Thankfully, medications like donepezil, galantamine, memantine, and rivastigmine are available to help treat the condition and retain cognitive function.
Arthritis is a condition in which your joints are inflamed, causing pain and stiffness. While this condition can occur in anyone of a certain age, it seems to occur more frequently in women. Thankfully, there are certain ways to lessen the effects of onset arthritis and maintain a good quality of life. This can include:
- quitting smoking
- moderate aerobic exercise
- maintaining a healthy weight for your height and frame
- keeping your arms, legs and back supported at all times
In addition to these methods and others recommended by your doctor, certain prescription medications can help. The most popular medications for arthritis include celecoxib, diclofenac, and piroxicam.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
This common chronic disease is easy to detect and relatively easy to treat. COPD is a disease that mainly consists of two lung conditions. The first is emphysema, which is the enlargement of air sacs in the lungs. The second is bronchitis, which consists of increased levels of mucus and inflammation in the interiors or the lungs. These conditions, both separate and together, make breathing difficult and cause shortness of breath, frequent coughing, and tightness in the chest. One of the best ways to slow the progression of COPD is to quit smoking. Another is to talk to your doctor about prescription medications like albuterol, formoterol, indacaterol, or ipratropium.
This is one of the most common chronic diseases today. In fact, many would call it an epidemic. Diabetes is a disease during which your body does not naturally produce enough insulin, which is needed to gather and distribute energy from food. When your body doesn’t get enough energy due to low insulin, the result is high blood sugar. This can lead to other serious conditions like kidney disease or heart disease. To manage diabetes, it might benefit you to:
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- regulate your alcohol consumption
- establish an exercise routine to maintain both weight and glucose levels
Thankfully, diabetes is pretty manageable. Prescription medications like glimepiride, glucagon, metformin, rosiglitazone, saxagliptin, and a number of different insulin types can help with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
Hypertension, or High Blood Pressure
Depending on a number of factors, older adults can be especially prone to hypertension, a condition that is most simply described as dangerously high blood pressure. There are several things that separate hypertension from normal bouts of high blood pressure. For instance, a symptom of hypertension is narrow arteries that are resist the bloodstream’s flow. This is what causes the high blood pressure for this condition. The danger of hypertension is that it can trigger other major health problems, like heart attacks and strokes. You can counter some of the effects of hypertension by:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- getting moderate amounts of exercise, including stretching
- adjusting your daily routine to reduce stress
- cutting alcohol from your diet and reducing your intake of salty foods
The best way to keep track of and treat hypertension is to keep regular visits with your doctor and take prescription medication. The most effective ones seem to include hydrochlorothiazide, nifedipine, telmisartan, and valsartan.
Ischemic Heart Disease, or Coronary Heart Disease
Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease or CHD, is the most common form of heart disease. Unfortunately, it claims the lives of 370,000 people every year. This condition can lead to blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks because it causes the accumulation of plaque in the arteries that lead to the heart. This narrows or even sometimes entirely blocks arteries, decreasing or cutting off blood flow. But you don’t have to become part of this statistic. There are ways you can avoid this chronic disease. First, you can build good habits at home, like:
- limiting your salt and sugar intake
- doing routine cardio exercises
- getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night
- avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol
Be sure to also talk to your doctor about the major risk factors as they apply to you, your genetics and your lifestyle. This may include high cholesterol or high blood pressure. You also have the option to take any number of prescription medications to treat CHD if you are already in the early stages of it. This might include atorvastatin, isosorbide, and nitroglycerin tablets.
Treating Common Chronic Diseases with Help from Advocate My Meds
Living with a chronic condition shouldn’t have to compromise your quality of life. If you or someone you care about currently suffers from one of the conditions mentioned above, Advocate My Meds offers patient assistance for all of the medications mentioned in each section of this article. For more information or for more option, please visit our medications directory or call us at 877-596-1604.