Getting older? 3 common illnesses you should know about

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Health and Wellness, Home and Living

As you get older, you may have wondered why you’ve seemed to get sick with colds or other viruses more often, taken longer to recover, or suffered complications to existing health conditions.

From childhood, our immune system matures, and we build up immunity to help protect us from many common viruses. This resilience built in youth gradually declines. Around age 50, the risk of infection and more serious complications starts to be more noticeable. As a result of our naturally weakening immune systems, older adults are more likely to face severe symptoms and potential hospitalization from infections that our younger selves could more easily fight off.

Here are three ailments you should have on your radar as you age:

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
RSV is a common respiratory virus. While most people experience mild, cold-like symptoms, this virus can be dangerous for adults aged 60 and older, and it can worsen pre-existing conditions such as asthma, COPD and congestive heart failure. RSV can have severe health impacts, including hospitalization and even death in some cases. Getting vaccinated, regularly washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces that are touched often and avoiding close contact with people who are sick can help reduce your risk.

Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection that typically causes a painful rash on one side of the body or face. It’s caused by the same virus that gives us chickenpox. If you had chickenpox in the past, the virus remains dormant in your body and can reactivate later in life as shingles. It’s estimated that one in three people will experience shingles in their lifetime. Fortunately, this virus is vaccine preventable.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a lung disease that causes a narrowing of the airways and can progress slowly over a number of years, with most people diagnosed over the age of 40. Smoking is the leading cause of developing COPD, but there are other risk factors including family history and exposure to air pollutants.

While the cause of COPD isn’t related to immune function, people living with COPD can suffer flare-ups due to common respiratory viruses such as a cold, the flu or RSV, which can worsen their condition. Although there is no cure for COPD, there are treatment options including medication and lifestyle changes that can help to support overall quality of life. Additionally, frequent hand washing and getting your annual vaccinations can help to manage symptoms and potential flare ups.

Related Content

Renovation projects that can add value to your home

Renovation projects that can add value to your home

Summer is a time to stretch your legs and enjoy the warm weather with your family and friends. During this time, many people are also looking to make upgrades to their home. Whether you’re looking to add more value to your home, make a few eco-friendly improvements or...

read more
Top tips to keep cool in the heat

Top tips to keep cool in the heat

Heat waves, with their hot temperatures and often high humidity, can harm your health and can even be deadly. To help you stay healthy, here are some tips from Health Canada. Take a break Plan your outdoor activities for the morning or evening when the temperature is...

read more
3 tips for a perfect lawn this summer

3 tips for a perfect lawn this summer

A healthy, green lawn can add value to your property, create a space for entertainment and even help absorb pollution. Here are some tips to grow a lawn you’re proud of. First, mow high, meaning set the blade of your lawnmower for a two-and-a-half to three-inch cut,...

read more
Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke

The hot summer heat is here, and with it comes the risk for heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can range from mild conditions like heat cramps and rashes to moderate illnesses like heat exhaustion, and more severe outcomes like heatstroke. As the body gets...

read more
Setting your kids up for success

Setting your kids up for success

Setting children up for success goes beyond academic achievements and providing material things. It also involves instilling values of compassion, empathy and community engagement that lay the foundation for a fulfilling and purposeful life. Here are three key...

read more
4 ways to stay active and safe this summer

4 ways to stay active and safe this summer

Regardless of your preference – be it soccer, pickleball, bootcamp class or tai-chi – outdoor activity is an important part of how many of us maintain a healthy mind and body. But being active outdoors during hot weather can have health risks. Here are four tips to...

read more