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what are Chronic Diseases

Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are health conditions that last longer than 3 months and may require prolonged treatment due to a drastic deterioration in health. Chronic diseases can last for years or even a lifetime. These diseases tend to appear with age and can usually be controlled but rarely cured.
 
Chronic diseases are the leading causes of premature death and disability. Navigating life with a chronic disease is very challenging and requires people to restrict themselves to a specific lifestyle. 
 
Chronic diseases - be it of the mind or the body - can affect people’s lives on a psychological, social, physical and sexual level. Therefore, chronic disease patients require continuous support and care.
 
 
Statistics:
In India, chronic diseases are responsible for 53% of all deaths. According to the WHO, more than 60 million people will die from chronic diseases in India in the next 10 years. Chronic disease deaths will increase by 18%, diabetes deaths by 35%. 80% of deaths from chronic diseases occur in low- and middle-income countries, and half are women. The total number of people dying from chronic diseases is twice that of all infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria), maternal and perinatal diseases and nutritional deficiencies combined.
 
 
Chronic disease is an umbrella term for many types of diseases, but we can segregate them into 14
types of diseases namely:
 
  1. Cancer
  2. Arthritis - Orthopaedic (Musculoskeletal Disorder)
  3. Metabolic Disorder (Digestive System)
  4. Respiratory Disorder
  5. Cardiovascular Disorder 
  6. Neurological disorder
  7. Diabetes 
  8. Skin disorder
  9. Blood & circulation disorder
  10. Endocrine disorder
  11. Psychological disorder
  12. Urinary system disorder
  13. Immune system disorder
  14. Gynaecological disorder
 
Cancer
In cancer, some of the body cells grow out of control and spread to other parts of the body. Cancer begins in any part of the human body that is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, cells break down and divide through a process called cell division. But if this process accelerates and damaged cells continue to grow, those cells can develop into tumours.
 
Heart Disease
Heart disease encompasses a variety of conditions that affect your heart. These include infections, cardiac arrhythmias, blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects and diseases of the heart valves and muscles.   
 
Diabetes
Diabetes occurs when the body's blood sugar levels are too high. Without sufficient production of insulin in the body, glucose is not broken down and does not get into the cells. Too much sugar in the body can cause many long-term health problems.
 
Chronic Respiratory Diseases
Chronic respiratory diseases (CKD) are diseases of the airways and other parts of the respiratory system. The most common are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. There is no cure for these diseases, however, various forms of treatment and treatment that help moderate the severity of can control symptoms and improve patients' quality of life. 
 
Other 
Mental disorders, disabilities, genetic disorders, bone and joint diseases, etc. they also form an important part of the most common chronic diseases. Although most of these diseases have no cure, with proper medical care and support, patients can live fulfilling lives. 
 
 
Chronic diseases have disease specific symptoms but may have general symptoms of pain, fatigue, irritability and mood swings. However, here are some symptoms one can watch out for every major chronic disease: 
 
Cancer:
Fever Lumps and swelling on the affected area, Weight loss without trying, Sores that don’t heal, Anaemia Unusual bleeding, Change in appetite. 
 
Musculoskeletal disorder:
Stiffness, Joint dislocation, Burning sensation in the muscles, Pain that worsens with movement.
 
Sleep disturbances Respiratory disorder:
Cough, Shortness of breath, Chest pain, Chronic mucus, Hemoptysis
 
Metabolic disorder:
Lethargy, Poor appetite, Abdominal pain, Weight loss, Jaundice, Developmental delay 
 
Neurological disorder:
Persistent headache, Loss of sight or double vision, Memory loss, Impaired mental ability 
 
Skin disorder:
Raised red and white bumps, Itchy skin, Rashes, Ulcers, Scaly or rough skin, Discoloured patches 
 
Psychological disorder:
Confused thinking ability, Reduces concentration, Excessive fears or worries, Withdrawal from friends or family, Significant tiredness, Sleeping problems.
 
 
Causes of Chronic Diseases 
 
The causes of chronic diseases are well established and known. The most common and modifiable are unhealthy diet, unhealthy habits and lack of exercise. These causes are expressed through the intermediate risk factors of arterial hypertension, elevated glucose levels, abnormal blood lipid levels and obesity. However, these problems become more difficult to circumvent over time and inheritance.
 
 
The following are some global causes that go beyond the modifiable risk factors when it comes to chronic diseases: 
 
Childhood risk
Evidence suggests that conditions before birth and during childhood play a major role in determining health as an adult. Low blood pressure, delays in development, poor mental health, etc. health conditions can be traced back to genetics and environmental factors.
 
Age
Ageing is an irreversible process. With growing age, the impact of risk factors increases due to immunosenescence. The immune system stops functioning as vigorously as before. The combination of elevated comorbid conditions and decreased immune system activity may make people more susceptible to chronic disease.
 
Poverty
Chronic disease and poverty are interconnected in a vicious cycle. Poverty limits people’s access to health care and also renders them poorer due to heavy costs of treatment. Due to lack of resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle, precaution also becomes inaccessible for those below poverty line. 
 
Underlying determinants
Other underlying causes are globalisation, urbanisation, climate change and population explosion which end up having an adverse effect on the health of countless people. Diagnosis of Chronic Diseases Chronic conditions are complex and each of them have their unique diagnostic procedures to follow. Doctors usually focus on the primary symptoms and treatment during initial visits and depending on the response of the patient, they arrive at a conclusion. 
 
 
However, since chronic diseases are quite difficult to diagnose, every doctor will recommend the following: Blood tests X-rays CT or MRIs or ultrasounds In case the issue persists or the diagnosis doesn’t get clear over time, the doctor might suggest seeing a specialist for the condition. Even after diagnosis, the doctor is likely to refer you to a specialist as they may not be well-equipped to treat you. Depending on the symptoms and the diagnosis, the type of specialist one has to consult may vary.
 
 
Treatment of Chronic Diseases
 
People with chronic diseases require continuous treatment over a long period of time, perhaps even throughout their lives. One can be proactive about their line of treatment and manage their symptoms by following these basic treatment processes: 
 
  • Regular visits to a General Physician or specialist. 
  • Undergo regular tests and check-ups. 
  • Take medication in a timely manner 
  • Management plan
  • Undergoing surgery and recommended therapies
 
 
Chronic Disease Prevention
 
The burden of a chronic disease can be overwhelming for the patient and their loved ones. That's why healthcare professionals insist on preventing avoidable conditions by adopting healthy habits. 
 
Diet:
A healthy diet is key to building immunity and speedy recovery. Eating whole, unrefined, and minimally processed foods lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. There is also evidence that the Mediterranean diet helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular and chronic diseases. 
 
Physical Activity:
Movement helps the body systems. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week. Even something as simple as walking 10 minutes two or three times a day can have huge long-term positive effects. If walking is not an option, any physical activity will do. To put it simply: move more and sit less.
 
Sleep:
About 79 hours of sleep gives the body time to repair wear and tear. If 8 hours of sleep isn't an option for you, try getting regular, longer hours of sleep over the weekend. Turn down all your screens 90 minutes before bed and keep your sleeping area cool, dark and comfortable. 
 
Stress Relief:
Chronic stress can damage your immune system and, over time, lead to psychosomatic states. Mindfulness meditation, gratitude journaling, and cognitive behavioural therapy are some of the top ways to learn how to manage stress long-term.
 
Quitting Smoking and Drinking: Quitting smoking or drinking reduces the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and lung disease, and early death, even for people who are long-lived. 
 
Social Connections: Having a social life full of friends and family is good for mental and emotional well-being. Because a healthy mind is part of a healthy body, you must consider that investing in social activities that give meaning to your life is a contribution to your well-being.

 

 

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