Disease refers to a condition that induces our human body to function abnormally. A person may get a disease due to the transmission of certain viruses, bacteria and protozoans, etc. that are harmful in nature and are likely to attack our immune system. While people perceive disease essentially to be something that creates pain physically, people need to change their definition, as mental suffering or stress also comes under the purview of disease. Some may be genetic, and some may be non-genetic; some may be communicable and non-communicable. There may be innumerable reasons such as unhealthy lifestyle, consumption of alcohol and drugs, lack of physical fitness, obesity which directly affect our body. Increasing environmental pollution is an unaddressed problem that indirectly affects our human body. Rapid advancement in science has been able to find a cure for most of the diseases.
However, it still remains inaccessible for the majority of the population because not everyone has adequate resources to get treatment. Every year millions of people get diagnosed with certain dangerous ailments, and every year millions surrender themselves to these diseases. It depends on how our human body serves as a barrier and fights against these diseases.
Following are some of the diseases and how they affect both male and female population:
1. High blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, works as a silent killer for anyone with fluctuating blood pressure. While the optimum level of blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg, even a slight increase in this level can have life-threatening complications in the form of stroke, kidney failure, etc. The primary causes of raised blood pressure may be lack of physical activity, excessive use of alcohol and cigarettes, stress, unchecked BP, excessive intake of salt, etc. Most people are unaware that they might have high blood pressure, primarily because they do not witness any symptoms. In 2015, it was reported by WHO that around 1.13 billion population has been diagnosed with hypertension making it one of the leading reasons for premature deaths. It is not a lesser-known fact that high blood pressure can widely affect people of all age groups and both men and women.
However, there may be certain gender-based differences, where studies have shown that 1 out of 4 men and 1 out of 5 women have probable chances of being diagnosed with high blood pressure. Reports have shown that around 30-45% of adults have a potential risk, and this percentage increases to 60% for people above 60 years of age. According to a study conducted by a group of Japanese scientists, it showed a direct relationship between the disease and level of income; where men with higher incomes are more prone to hypertension in comparison to men belonging to lower-income groups. This brings us to our question- isn’t money the cure for everything? Well, the answer stands at a definite NO. People falling in the higher income category tend to have a disturbed lifestyle and are twice more likely to indulge in excessive alcohol consumption, lacking physical activities, obesity, and stress (probably with all those bank balances). Whereas, women have a lower chance of being subjected to high blood pressure, primarily due to a lower share of working women in the society. Moreover, women tend to be more physically fit and less obese than men due to their daily household work. The common diseases vary from countries to countries where we’ve already covered the common diseases in India that have influenced millions of people.
2. Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is a probable side effect of high blood pressure. It occupies the number 1 position for a large number of deaths every year. Heart diseases take a toll over one life every 45 seconds in the USA. Heart diseases impact a large amount of population of men and women all over the world. However, studies have proved that heart attacks and stroke are more common among men over women. To be precise, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases as compared to women. While some of the reasons for certain heart disorders in men may be the uncontrolled intake of alcohol, high cholesterol, lack of physical fitness, obesity, etc.; women tend to experience similar complications.
The fatality rate in women is higher than in men. Chest pain being the most obvious symptom while experiencing a heart attack; women show many other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest. These atypical symptoms in women have a greater chance of being neglected as they are not considered severe. Lack of awareness may be the primary reason for such an increased mortality rate among women. Many theories have shown that women continue to work even while experiencing a stroke; uncanny as it sounds, it can be highly detrimental. Estrogen in women can act as a shield against heart diseases until their menstrual cycle comes to a halt. Even though men are considered ‘bread runners’ of the family, women need to address the health complications they are facing.
Asthma is an inflammatory disease that causes blockage in the airways through which air goes to the lungs. Those who have asthma may witness triggering symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, tightness, or pain in the chest, wheezing, and coughing. While some people experience mild to moderate difficulties, others may have chronic attacks which may be life-threatening. This disorder hampers physical activities as it may create difficulty in breathing. Asthma affects around 300 million individuals, globally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma takes a toll over an estimated 250,000 lives worldwide. Asthma may affect children, along with adults. Some studies that have been conducted prove that before puberty, boys are 1.5 times more susceptible to asthma than girls. On the contrary, this ratio undergoes a change after puberty, when asthma becomes twice dangerous for women as for men. Women face huge complications till the age of 40-44, after which their symptoms and risk subside as menopause hits them. In a cohort of 2000 patients, it was found out that around 60%, were women diagnosed with asthma. Statistics to date have not been able to prove the reason behind such a higher risk in women as compared to men.
However, several hypotheses have shown that sex hormones have a major role to play in asthma development. The sex hormones in females easily fall prey to allergens and viral infections; whereas male sex hormones form a protective shield against these allergens. One of the reasons why Indian women are more prone to asthma is because many houses in rural areas do not have adequate gas supply and gas stoves. As a result of which, women have to spend hours trying to ignite the church made of mud which generates a humongous amount of smoke, thus being inhaled by them. Inhalers and certain medications prescribed by doctors can help put a halt on problems faced by asthma patients. Asthma has no cure, but people get used to living their lives.
Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, refers to a condition wherein our body’s ability to process blood glucose or blood sugar is thwarted. It has symptoms such as increased thirst, constant urination, dizziness, fatigue. Sometimes, men may have excessive muscle loss, where women may have urinary tract infections.
There is two most common type of diabetes:
- Type-1: This is a type where our pancreas is incapable of producing insulin. This condition is also known as juvenile diabetes, primarily because children are more susceptible to it. People who are diagnosed with type-1 diabetes are required to have a daily intake of artificial insulin for sustenance. Type-1 diabetes is genetic where fathers with type-1 diabetes are most likely to transmit it to the offspring.
- Type-2: Under type-2 diabetes, while our body produces a certain amount of insulin; however, the effectiveness of our body cells to respond is highly impaired. Type-2 diabetes is majorly found among men between the age group of 35-54. However, type 2 diabetes may affect women indirectly where their risk of getting coronary heart disease increases manifold. Mothers with type-2 diabetes are most likely to spread it to their child.
The hormone testosterone plays an important role in determining the risk factor between men and women. Low levels of Testosterone among men and a high level of Testosterone among women is considered highly dangerous. While both men and women face complications, the problem in women exacerbates when they transition to menopause. With diabetes, one of the main reasons for fatalities in those infected with Covid-19, it becomes extremely important to continuously monitor one’s blood sugar level.
Cancer refers to a condition where the cells grow abnormally and uncontrollably in the body. Surveys conducted in 2018 reported a total of 18 million cancer cases worldwide; with 9.5 million and 8.5 million cases in men and women globally. In 2018, the most common type of cancer affecting millions of individuals was lung and breast cancer. Every type of cancer has its symptoms. However, some common symptoms may be weight loss, incessant coughing, abnormal bleeding, change in bowel movements. A biopsy is conducted to determine the type and stage of cancer to prescribe the adequate protocols for the treatment of cancer. An unhealthy lifestyle, indulgence in alcohol, stress, etc. makes both men and women vulnerable to the risk of cancer. While women may largely be diagnosed with cervical, breast, and ovarian cancer; men may be affected by lung, skin, and prostate cancer. Studies have shown that men are 60% more likely than women to have cancer and 70% more likely to succumb to it. The sole reason for this mysterious disparity lies in marked differences between the lifestyle of both men and women. The truth that men still dominate the job sector and the majority of women are subjected to household matters only, is not hard to digest. Men generating higher incomes tend to have a very disturbing lifestyle with no schedule in terms of sleep, food intake, and regular visits to the health centres. This leads to many cancerous symptoms being neglected to result in detection at a later stage when the body stops responding to the treatment.
However, women undergo regular health checkups as breast cancer is one of the main cancers affecting women worldwide which makes them aware and ensures avoidance of any complications. A surprising fact related to breast cancer is that men diagnosed with it die early than women. This is because men are unable to get adequate treatment due to the stigma they may be subjected to.
As they say, our human body is a representation of our own soul. Globally, more than 90% of people have certain ailments, while some may be known, some are still unknown to people. As the world is progressing, so is people’s greed for money. Even in this busy lifestyle of ours, it is imperative to spare some time to treat our bodies. A proper fitness schedule, refraining from tobacco and alcohol, regular health checkups can go a long way in early detection of such illnesses. We need to understand that being diagnosed with a disease is not a problem, but ignorance can prove much costly.