Commonly known as non-communicable diseases, abbreviated as NCDs, non-infectious diseases are those that are caused by factors such as genetics, environment, and lifestyle, and not by disease-causing organisms. Non-infectious diseases do not pass on from one person to another.
Common non-infectious diseases affecting people worldwide
According to WHO reports, the most common and highly prevalent non-infectious diseases that affect people worldwide, and have the highest contribution to the global mortality rate are cardiovascular diseases, various cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory problems. A highly polluted environment and sedentary lifestyle have played a major role in lifting up the rate of premature deaths caused by non-infectious diseases. While earlier these health issues were predominantly seen only in the elite class, today they are equally common in people belonging to the middle and lower income groups.
As mentioned earlier there are certain factors that are responsible for the occurrence of non-infectious diseases or disorders. Non-infectious diseases can be classified as those caused by:
- Stress- In today’s fast paced life with constant challenges to face, stress creeps in unnoticed. Long working hours, lack of sleep, wrong eating habits, disturbed relationships and peer pressure all contribute to increased levels of stress. High stress levels can lead to health problems like insomnia, depression, obesity etc. Stress also plays a major role in contributing to non-infectious diseases such as diabetics, blood pressure and heart problems.
- Carcinogens- Carcinogens are the cancer causing agents that we are constantly exposed to, through the UV radiations of the sun, packaged foods, tobacco smoke as well as substances like insecticides and chlorine. Even bath and beauty products, toiletries and various cleaning agents as well as some well known baby products contain carcinogens that can cause cancer.
- Genetic modifications- Abnormalities or disorder of certain genes also lead to various non-infectious diseases. Genetic diseases are either passed down from parent to child or might occur due to genetic mutations or changes in DNA. Sickle cell diseases, poly cystic kidney, colour blindness etc. are some of the non-infectious diseases caused due to genetic modifications and disorders.
- Allergens- Allergens are found in dust, pollen, fur etc. Some people are also allergic to certain foods like peanuts, seafood and eggs to name a few. When these allergens come in contact with our bodies, the body produces an allergic reaction that can vary from minor health issues to serious consequences.
- Degeneration- When the function of a particular organ deteriorates or the tissue or organ itself degenerates, health issues and diseases are bound to arise. Some degenerative disorders are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis etc. Degeneration might be a result of aging, lack of nutrition or excess wear and tear.
- Nutritional deficiency- Proper nutrition is required for an individual to remain in good health. Lack of nutrition can lead to various non-infectious diseases. For example, iron deficiency causes anaemia while lack of calcium causes bone disorders. Other non-infectious diseases like goitre and mental retardation are caused due to deficiencies of iodine and zinc respectively.
- Metabolism related issues- Metabolism is related to the efficient functioning of liver, pancreas etc. If these organs do not function properly then any amount of food intake or nutrition is of no use. Metabolic disorders have a major role play in triggering non-infectious diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
Most NCDs can be prevented, as they are caused by risk factors that can be eliminated. One of the ways in which one can overcome most of the non-infectious diseases is by making healthy lifestyle choices. It is very important to eat right and exercise regularly, as this will keep one in good health, thus reducing the chances of non-infectious diseases. It is important to inculcate such habits in children, as it is only then that we will see a healthier new generation.
To begin with, we first need to identify the problems so that we can find apt solutions. Health and fitness should be our top priority, and one must take up a healthy lifestyle. It’s easier said than done, you may say. Well, it may be a little challenging in the beginning, and you may not immediately experience the benefits of the healthy lifestyle you have taken up, but if you keep going, health benefits will surely start to show.