It is well-known that elderly people are more susceptible to colds and illnesses, and that colds tend to last longer as we age. Getting a cold now and then is, of course, quite common and nothing to be concerned about. However, if an individual gets colds frequently, it is important to look for factors that are causing of this problem.
Besides the fact that colds disrupt our lifestyle, diminish our quality of life, and are physically unpleasant, frequent illnesses can lead to far more serious conditions. When the body is continually assaulted with viruses such as the common cold, it is left in a weakened state. Once the body is in a weakened state, the possibility of contracting a more serious illness becomes more likely.
Assuming that we are otherwise healthy, there are three main causes of frequent illness:
- Stress and anxiety
- Insufficient sleep
- Immune system disorders
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life. Although they cannot be avoided, most people are able to handle the ups and downs of daily living. However, when people live with chronic stress or anxiety, they are likely to experience a severe negative impact on their health.
Stress and anxiety
Chronic stress and anxiety are associated with a number of diseases and illnesses, ranging from cardiovascular disease to depression to cancer. Typical symptoms of stress and anxiety include:
- Difficulty focusing or paying attention
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stomach pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Nervousness and fear about the future
Sleep disorders are extremely common among the elderly. Since sleep is the main time when the body repairs damaged tissue and recovers from the strains of the day, insufficient sleep can cause a variety of symptoms. The most common are:
- Extreme fatigue and drowsiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
Immune system disorders
Immune system disorders are characterized by the body losing its ability to defend itself against infections and diseases. There are many possible causes of immune disorders.
The most common are
- Congenital abnormalities
- An overactive immune system, which typically causes allergic reactions
- An immune system which functions incorrectly, causing the immune system to identify healthy tissue as unhealthy tissue, consequently causing the body to attack and destroy healthy tissue. A common example of this phenomenon is rheumatoid arthritis.
When the immune system functions incorrectly, infections are more common and more difficult to treat. In most cases, medicines are only able to treat the symptoms of the immune system disorder, but cannot cure the disorder itself. However, there is strong evidence that a nutrient-rich diet which avoids unhealthy foods can help to alleviate many of the effects of an immune system disorder.
If you get colds frequently, it would be worthwhile to consider whether any of these three causes may be the culprit. A consultation with your doctor is certainly recommended. If you are able to overcome the cause of your frequent illnesses, your quality of life will be substantially enhanced.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.
We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.
Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.
We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.