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Shielding yourself from diseases

Shielding yourself from diseases

Why are some people perennially unwell, while others are busy whistling away in good health? Is it all to do with bad luck? While some may have better odds of being free from disease, others can proactively limit their predilection to certain illnesses.

Complex factors are at play when it comes to getting one illness or another. Our planet is full of micro-organisms. Some have a symbiotic relationship with us, while others are in existence to cause us harm. The environment is full of toxins, mostly created by humans. The more toxins we get exposed to, the more likely some illness will come our way. Then there are genes and innate immunity. Some have better immunity than others. A selection of genes will prevent us from getting ill, while other genes will predispose us to certain diseases.

Add our lifestyles into the mix. What we eat, drink and smoke all add up to either creating a disease state, or keeping us healthier. What we do with ourselves is another matter. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is a harbinger for many disease states. The opposite is healthier. The list of what predisposes us to illness cannot be exhaustive, there’s a multitude of other complex factors at play.

The crucial question is whether we can completely shield ourselves from disease. The answer doesn’t need spelling out, it’s a plain no. Unless you lived in utopia! Stuff will catch you unawares, and get you into some unwanted state of being unwell. It’s difficult to manipulate our genetic make-up with current science, so it’s just a matter of time if you have certain predispositions. But there’s lots we, and you, can do to keep yourself away from disease.

Preventive measures are our best bet, and some are just plain common sense. Why tempt disease with smoking, excessive drinking, unsafe sex, etc? Why can’t you tame your diet, and watch your weight? If something unusual comes up, get it checked pronto. It’s not really about bad luck or even inescapable predilection to certain diseases. True, you can never completely shield yourself from disease. But there’s lots you can do to always be some steps ahead of common ailments.

Pre-emptive strategies are also key to disease prevention. You must have heard of vaccines, they are a potent way of preventing disease. Keep yourself up to date with all the recommended ones. Heard of disease screening tests? They are valuable for detecting early onset of disease and pre-empting advanced stages. Take advantage of screening for cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, among others. Early diagnosis for chronic illnesses means better chances for a cure, or longterm optimal control.

Complete disease avoidance is a fallacy, but you can deliberately avoid many ailments if you try.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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