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    Common Health Issues: A Guide for the UK

    Common Health Issues: A Guide for the UK

    This article is all about the health problems that many people in the UK face. We'll talk about the most common health issues in the UK in 2024, as well as how they are best treated. We will also look at how much of an issue people think health conditions are in the UK in 2024.

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    How important do people in the UK think health is as an issue in 2024?

    In 2024, people in the UK consider health to be a significant issue, although not as pressing as the economy, according to Statista. Around 46% of UK residents viewed health as one of the top three concerns facing the country. This is a change when compared to previous years when health was ranked as the second most important issue. This is possibly due to challenges within the NHS such as staffing problems and increasing demand for services. While the economy remains the primary concern, health continues to hold a place of importance in the minds of the British public, reflecting ongoing worries about the state of healthcare and the NHS.

    What are the most common health conditions in the UK in 2024?

    According to a patient survey by NHS England, 56% of patients that participated reported having one or more long-term physical or mental health conditions. The most commonly reported health issues include arthritis or ongoing problems with joints or back (18.4%), high blood pressure (16.6%), mental health conditions (12.7%), breathing conditions like asthma or COPD (11.1%), and diabetes (8%) (Braithwaite, 2024).

    Arthritis 

    Arthritis refers to pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints. It's not just one condition but includes several types. In the UK, around 10 million people are believed to have arthritis, according to the arthritis charity Versus Arthritis. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, including children and teenagers, although certain types are more common among older individuals.

    How is arthritis treated?

    Unfortunately, arthritis does not currently have a cure. It is managed through numerous treatment options, depending on the type of condition that you have. For osteoarthritis, lifestyle changes such as weight management, medications, and surgical interventions are commonly used. In rheumatoid arthritis, treatment focuses on slowing the condition's progress and minimising joint inflammation to prevent damage. A comprehensive approach involving medication, physiotherapy, and surgery tailored to the specific type and severity of arthritis is essential (NHS, 2022).

    High Blood Pressure

    High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common condition impacting the arteries in the body. When someone has high blood pressure, the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently high. This places increased strain on the heart, requiring it to work harder to pump blood through the body. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg). High blood pressure is diagnosed when the blood pressure reading is consistently at or above 130/80 mm Hg, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    How is high blood pressure treated?

    High blood pressure can be managed through a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle adjustments, including reducing salt intake, following a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking, can significantly lower blood pressure levels. These changes are often recommended as initial steps and may even eliminate the need for medication in some cases.

    When lifestyle changes aren’t enough, various medications such as ACE inhibitors, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers, diuretics, and beta-blockers may be prescribed to help control blood pressure. It's crucial to take prescribed medications as directed by a healthcare professional to effectively manage high blood pressure and reduce the risk of side effects (NHS, 2023). Some well-known high blood pressure medications include Ramipril and Amlodipine.

    Mental Health Conditions

    Mental health conditions, also known as mental disorders, are significant disturbances in mental cognition, emotions, or behaviour. These conditions often cause distress or difficulty functioning in everyday life. There are a number of different types of mental disorders, each with its own symptoms and impacts. Mental health conditions cover a broad range of issues. The most common mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (World Health Organisation, 2022).

    How are mental health problems treated?

    Mental health problems are treated through a combination of talking treatments and medication, or just one depending on the condition. Talking treatments, such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), offer people a supportive environment to explore their condition with a trained therapist. Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. 

    Medication, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilisers, is often prescribed to alleviate symptoms associated with specific mental health conditions. While medication can effectively manage symptoms for many individuals, it's important to consider potential side effects and the need for ongoing monitoring and adjustment (Mind, 2017).

    Breathing Conditions 

    Breathing conditions include problems like having trouble breathing when you have a cold or an infection like sinusitis, which can block your nose. Some breathing issues, like chronic sinusitis, allergies, and asthma, last a long time. They can cause symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. When your nose and sinuses are inflamed, it can trigger asthma attacks, especially if you have allergies (Baby, 2023).

    How are breathing conditions treated?

    To treat breathing problems, it's important to avoid things that can make them worse, like allergens or triggers. This means wearing a mask for chores, staying away from pets if they make you feel bad, and keeping your home clean. Medications also help. Allergy medications can make breathing easier, while corticosteroids such as Ventolin inhalers reduce inflammation in your airways. For asthma, drugs open airways and reduce swelling (Baby, 2023).

    Diabetes 

    Diabetes is a condition where the body has trouble using blood sugar (glucose) effectively. Glucose is the key source of energy for our cells, including muscles and tissues, and it's also vital for proper brain function. The causes of diabetes can differ depending on the type, but regardless, it often leads to high levels of sugar in the blood. This excess sugar can cause serious health issues if not managed properly (Mayo Clinic, 2024).

    How is diabetes treated?

    Diabetes treatment varies depending on the type of diabetes you have. For Type 1 diabetes, insulin is essential. This is usually administered through injections or a pump. For Type 2 diabetes, treatments may include insulin or tablets. Initially, managing Type 2 diabetes may involve lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. However, medication may be necessary as the condition progresses, according to Diabetes UK.

    Sources

    UK Healthcare Statistics for 2024 - Forth With Life

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