Dr Mohammed Ali Seethakathi
MBBS, MD (Medicine)
Specialist Internal Medicine
September 23, 2017
A common cold that can be easily fended off by healthy adults with over-the-counter medication can develop into influenza among the elderly. Or a case of diarrhoea can easily lead to dehydration and impaired kidney function if left untreated, warned Dr Mohammad Ali Seethakathi, internal medicine specialist at Universal Hospital.
Some warning signs
Even though they may seem trivial, families cannot afford to ignore complaints about ill health from aged family members, as these can otherwise develop into more persistent complications. In addition, those with chronic illnesses must make sure to visit the doctor as often as prescribed.
Joint pain: Persistent pain in one joint or many joints, swelling of joints or prolonged early morning stiffness can indicate developing arthritis. Although joint replacement surgeries may be required, proper treatment can also greatly relieve discomfort, along with prudent weight management and physiotherapy.
Fever: Simple over-the-counter medications are often not enough to restore proper health for the elderly, and without the proper treatment, an infection that causes fever may develop into pneumonia. Medical experts, including with Abu Dhabi’s health-care regulator, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, also recommend that those aged 60 years or more take the yearly flu shots.
Diarrhoea: Even though it is a common result of indigestion, diarrhoea in the elderly can quickly lead to dehydration, and further impair renal functioning.
Blurred vision: Vision loss is often considered to be a natural consequence of ageing. Still, unless medical help is sought, blurred vision from conditions like glaucoma can quickly progress to irreversible blindness. Falls, which are the biggest cause of death through injury among the aged, are also common among those with vision loss.
Hearing loss: Like vision loss, hearing impairments may be difficult to prevent. But without adequate support, hearing loss can result in social alienation, and even depression in the long run.
Incontinence: Trouble urinating and frequent nightly trips to the bathroom could indicate prostate cancer in men. The cancer is however treatable in the early stages, which is why doctors recommend regular screenings for the elderly. Incontinence can also point to uncontrolled blood sugar and worsening diabetes.
Forgetfulness: Though memory tends to decline with advancing age, repeated episodes of forgetfulness could be a sign of dementia. Although it cannot be cured, the right medications can slow down the progression of this debilitating neurological condition.
Persistent breathlessness: Breathlessness can point to a developing cardiac episode, especially as many overweight patients do not feel the chest pain that is characteristic of a heart attack.
Source: Dr Mohammad Ali Seethakathi, Universal Hospital