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8 Foods to Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol and Diabetes

8 Foods to Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol and Diabetes

Diabetes and cholesterol are two conditions that often go hand-in-hand. High cholesterol can be a cause of diabetes and vice versa. That’s why it’s so important to control both conditions through diet. There are certain foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol or diabetes, or both.

In this article, we will talk about what is diabetes, what is cholesterol, and foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol and diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin or does not properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin allows the body to utilize sugar, starches, and other food for the energy needed daily.

There are three main types of diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes

With type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. 

People who have type 1 diabetes should take insulin injections every day to stay alive. Failure to do so can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal if left untreated. 

The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown. It is believed to be an autoimmune disorder, which means the body’s immune system destroys the body’s insulin-producing cells found in the pancreas.

Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce or use insulin properly. 

People with type 2 diabetes can improve their condition by losing weight, exercising, and following a healthy diet. Some people with type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin injections.

The cause of type 2 diabetes is also unknown, but it is believed to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Obesity and lack of exercise are two of the most important risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

Some women have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This condition is called gestational diabetes. 

Gestational diabetes normally goes away once the baby is born, but women who have had it are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational diabetes is caused by hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. These changes can lead to insulin resistance, which is when the body does not use insulin properly.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol and diabetes.

The symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are often the same. They include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Slow-healing cuts and bruises
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Diabetes Diagnosis

A doctor can diagnose diabetes by doing a blood test called a fasting blood sugar test or a hemoglobin A1c test. This type of test measures the level of sugar in your blood once you have fasted in a span of at least eight hours. The test measures your blood sugar level for the previous two to three months.

There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. People with type 1 diabetes are required to take daily insulin injections in order to stay alive.

People with type 2 diabetes can improve their condition by losing weight, exercising, and following a healthy diet. Some people with type 2 diabetes also need to take insulin injections.

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but women who have had it are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones and build cell walls, but excessive amounts of cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

There are two types of cholesterol. One is the “good” cholesterol, called HDL, which helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood. The other is LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that may build up in your body’s arteries and cause blockages.

Having high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 610,000 Americans die from heart disease each year — that’s one in every four deaths. High cholesterol can also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.

High cholesterol doesn’t usually cause any symptoms, so you might not know you have it. A simple blood test can tell you if your cholesterol levels are high. Once you know your numbers, you and your doctor can work together to make lifestyle changes and, if necessary, start cholesterol-lowering medication.

How to Manage Cholesterol and Diabetes

Managing cholesterol and diabetes can be a challenge, but it’s important to do so for your overall health. The main thing to remember is to eat foods that do not contain too much-saturated fat and cholesterol and to avoid foods that are high in sugar.

Aside from a healthy diet, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are also important in managing cholesterol and diabetes.

It’s also important to visit your doctor regularly to monitor your cholesterol and blood sugar levels and make sure you are doing everything you can to manage your condition. You should take a proactive approach to your health, ensuring that you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and avoid complications.

Cholesterol Issues

If your LDL cholesterol is 100 mg/dL or more, it’s time to take action. Even if your LDL cholesterol is lower than 100, you may still be at risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s why it’s important to know your numbers and talk to your doctor about your risk.

Your total cholesterol level is the sum of your LDL, HDL, and a type of cholesterol called triglycerides. Triglycerides are the main form of fat in food and are also found in your blood.

Your cholesterol levels are affected by the following factors:

  • What you eat
  • How much you weigh
  • Your age and gender
  • Whether you smoke
  • Your family history

You can’t do anything about some of these factors, but there are things you can do to lower your cholesterol.

Healthy Diet

Diet is one of the most important things you can control. Eating foods that are low in saturated and trans fats can help lower your LDL cholesterol.

Animal products such as butter, red meat, and cheese contain saturated fats. Processed foods such as crackers, cookies, and cakes often contain trans fats.

You can also raise your HDL cholesterol by eating foods that contain soluble fiber, such as oatmeal and beans. Soluble fiber can also help lower your LDL cholesterol.

Exercising and Losing Weight

Exercise is another important way to raise your HDL cholesterol and lower your LDL cholesterol. Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise — like walking — most days of the week can make a significant difference. If you have heart disease or are at risk for it, your doctor may recommend more strenuous exercise.

Losing weight can also help lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol. Even a small weight loss of 10 to 20 pounds can make a difference. If these lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor may advise you to take medication to help lower your cholesterol. The most common type of medication is statin.

Top 8 Foods to Avoid If You Have High Cholesterol and Diabetes

If you have high cholesterol or diabetes, you need to be extra careful about the foods you eat. Here are eight foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol and diabetes:

1. Foods High in Trans Fats

Trans fats are even worse for your cholesterol levels than saturated fats. Trans fats can be found in foods like margarine, vegetable shortening, and some types of cooking oil. They can also be found in many processed foods, so make sure to check the labels before you buy anything.

2. Foods High in Saturated Fats

Saturated fats can raise your LDL cholesterol and make it harder for your body to process insulin. Foods high in saturated fat include red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream. Make sure to avoid foods that are fried or foods that have been processed with hydrogenated oils.

3. Eggs, Shrimp, Lobster

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in foods like eggs, shrimp, and lobster. Too much cholesterol can increase your LDL cholesterol levels and make it harder for your body to process insulin. Make sure to check with your doctor before you eat foods high in cholesterol.

4. Sugar

Eating too much sugar can raise your blood sugar levels and make it harder for your body to process insulin. Foods high in sugar include candy, cookies, cake, and soda. You should also avoid foods that have a lot of added sugar, such as some breakfast cereals and fruit juices.

5. Salt

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which can be dangerous for people with diabetes. Foods high in salt include processed foods, canned soup, and fast food. Make sure to check the labels on foods before you buy them, and try to avoid foods that have more than 2% of their daily value for sodium.

6. Foods With Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are foods that have been processed and had fiber and other nutrients removed. Examples of refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, and pasta made with white flour. These foods can raise your blood sugar levels quickly, so it’s best to avoid them if you have diabetes.

7. Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood sugar levels and make it harder for your body to process insulin. If you have diabetes, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to drink. Most of the time, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.

8. Coffee, Tea, Soda

Caffeine can raise your blood pressure and make it harder for your body to process insulin. Foods and drinks that are high in caffeine include coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soda. If you have diabetes, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how much caffeine is safe for you to consume.

By avoiding these foods, you can help keep your cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. This will help you stay healthy and avoid complications from high cholesterol or diabetes.

What Are the Best Foods to Eat if You Have High Cholesterol?

The best foods for high cholesterol are foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, as well as foods that are high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant sterols. Foods to eat include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Nuts

Conclusion

Having high cholesterol and diabetes can be difficult to manage, but making small changes in your diet can make a big difference. Avoiding foods that are high in cholesterol and sugar can help you keep your levels under control.

By following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you can live a long and healthy life even with these conditions.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?

How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?

Heart disease is the top cause of death for both women and men in the U.S. Meanwhile, the amount of people globally who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes is continuing to grow year after year. So how does diabetes affect the heart? What do these two facts have to do with each other? 

It’s simple: if you have diabetes, your chances of having heart disease double.

According to research, those with type 2 diabetes have up to four times the likelihood as the general population of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Moreover, you’re more likely than a non-diabetic to get heart disease at a younger age. That heart disease risk only grows the longer you have diabetes. People with diabetes also have greater chances of having particular risk factors for heart disease, like high cholesterol or high blood pressure. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that, as a person with diabetes, you can’t still protect the health of your heart. Managing your blood sugar levels is certainly a major part of it, but it’s not all you can do; there are actually many proactive steps you can take to lower your risk of heart disease as someone with diabetes.

By understanding how diabetes affects the heart, you can start making small but significant changes to certain lifestyle habits that both lower your risk of heart disease and help better manage your diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting the body’s ability to produce or effectively utilize insulin to transform food into energy. When the body breaks down food, it releases glucose, or sugar, into the bloodstream. The pancreas, then, produces insulin and releases it into the bloodstream to transport that blood sugar into the various cells of the body to use as energy. 

When diabetes interferes with the body’s ability to properly make or use insulin, cells cease to respond to insulin causing an excess of blood sugar to remain in the bloodstream. This can lead to severe medical concerns over time, like kidney disease, vision loss, and–yes–heart disease.

Around 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, eight million of whom have yet to be diagnosed with the condition. What’s more, 86 million more Americans present signs of prediabetes.

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a term for a variety of problems affecting the heart. Similarly, the term cardiovascular disease is just a broader and more generalized term that includes heart disease but also refers to other related medical problems and conditions like blood vessel disease and stroke. 

Heart Failure

While heart failure is certainly serious, it does not mean your heart has ceased beating; rather, it means the heart is unable to pump blood sufficiently well. As a result, your legs can start swelling and your lungs can start building up fluid.

This, in turn, can make it more difficult to breathe. Typically, heart failure worsens over time; however, with early diagnosis and prompt and proper treatment, you can alleviate some of the symptoms of heart failure and halt or impede the condition from worsening any further.

People who have diabetes also have a greater likelihood of having heart disease and heart failure.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Heart?

High blood sugar from diabetes can harm your blood vessels and the nerves controlling your heart. As time goes on, this can result in heart disease. 

Adult diabetics have almost twice the likelihood of developing heart disease or having a stroke as adult non-diabetics.

Diabetics are also prone to developing heart disease at younger ages than non-diabetics. Meanwhile, cardiovascular disease is responsible for two of every three deaths in those with type 2 diabetes.

A diabetic’s heart muscle does not heal as fast or fully after a heart attack as the heart muscle of a non-diabetic person. The danger of complications like heart failure is also notably higher in people with diabetes than in those without it. 

What Causes Heart Disease in People With Diabetes?

Diabetes can cause the heart muscle to stiffen, and it can damage blood vessels. Ultimately, this can result in difficulties like retaining fluid and potential heart failure.

Diabetics have a greater likelihood of having other conditions in addition to diabetes that increase heart disease risk even further. 

Some of these primary conditions caused by, associated with, or co-occurring with diabetes that are also risk factors for heart disease include: 

  • High blood pressure – High blood pressure raises the force with which blood flows through your arteries, posing a risk of damaging arterial walls.
  • High LDL – Too much of this type of cholesterol commonly known as “bad cholesterol” can cause plaque to develop on already damaged arterial walls.
  • High triglycerides / Low HDL – Medical experts now widely believe that too much of this kind of fat in the blood along with low levels of HDL cholesterol, or what’s commonly called “good cholesterol” can be a risk factor for the hardening of the arteries.

Having any one of these conditions along with diabetes elevates your risk of developing heart disease; having more than one of these conditions and diabetes only exacerbates that risk all the more. 

Because there are no noticeable symptoms of these conditions, the only way you can find out if you have any of them is by making sure your doctor regularly tests your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and either having your doctor check your blood pressure or getting an at-home blood pressure monitor and checking it periodically yourself. 

Diabetes and Coronary Artery Disease

The most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease. It results from plaque buildup in the blood vessels supplying blood and oxygen to the blood, known as coronary arteries.

When this happens, it interferes with the proper flow of blood to and from the heart. Specifically, plaque is composed of deposits of cholesterol that narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow, a process known as atherosclerosis or, more commonly, hardening of the arteries. When the blood flow to the brain reduces, the result can be a stroke. 

Those with diabetes have greater chances of acquiring premature accelerated coronary artery disease. Compared to non-diabetic patients, the arterial walls of diabetics have greater fatty deposits and start hardening sooner and without much warning.

This makes treatment for the condition challenging and can lead it to progress quicker than it otherwise, ordinarily might. As a result, diabetics have greater chances of recurring heart attacks and heart muscle tissue scarring. These, in turn, increase the danger of sudden cardiac death. 

You can also experience hardening of the arteries in other places in the body. One of the first indications that someone with diabetes is suffering from cardiovascular disease, in fact, is the hardening of the arteries in the feet and legs, known as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD. 

Other Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

Many lifestyle factors also increase one’s risk of heart disease, whether you have diabetes or not. For that matter, these lifestyle factors increase the risk of the above-named conditions that also pose heart disease risk factors.

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Getting insufficient physical activity
  • A diet high in trans fats, saturated fats, salt (sodium), and cholesterol
  • Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products like snuff, dip or chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

How to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease

The fortunate news for people with diabetes is that the very same actions you take to manage your diabetes help reduce your odds of developing heart disease or having a stroke as well. 

As such, the lifestyle changes listed below can both help reduce your heart disease risk (or, if you already have heart disease, keep it from advancing) and aid you in managing your diabetes. 

  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet – This includes more fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean proteins, and fewer sweets, fast foods, trans fats, and processed foods. Drink more water and less alcohol and sugary beverages.
  • Make efforts to achieve your healthy weight – If you’re not sure what your exact healthy weight is, ask your physician.
  • Get more active – Physical activity doesn’t just help with your weight; it also helps your body to make better use of insulin and reduces your risk of heart disease.
  • Manage your stress – Stress can lead to unhealthy habits and behaviors; practice deep breathing and other relaxation exercises and seek support from trusted family and friends and/or a professional mental health counselor.
  • Keep tabs on your numbers – In addition to monitoring your blood sugar, also track your blood pressure and cholesterol levels (both good and bad.)

Late Detection

While early detection is one of the best ways to defend yourself from the threats of heart disease, late detection can be detrimental. This is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes who may not notice the chest discomfort or pain that often alerts people to a problem with their heart due to the nerve damage diabetes can cause.

This can mean a person with diabetes does not have their heart disease diagnosed until it’s already advanced to the point at which their treatment options are fewer. The lack of adequate warning signs can also lead to what’s known as a “silent heart attack.”

How to Treat Heart Disease If You Have Diabetes

Treatment for both heart disease and diabetes generally includes taking medications to keep the conditions and their respective symptoms under control. Among the medications your doctor prescribes may include those to help regulate your blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. 

Finding the right treatment options for you can help reduce what side effects you may experience from treatment and make it easier for you to comply with and adhere to your treatment protocols.

In addition to medical treatment interventions, the same steps you can take to help prevent and reduce the risk of heart disease can also help to control both illnesses.

What is National Diabetes Heart Connection Day?

Thanks to a U.S. senate resolution that passed with a unanimous vote, November 9, has been declared National Diabetes Heart Health Awareness Day.

On this day, first recognized in 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with heart health and diabetes care experts around the country, ramps up efforts to educate the public on the symptoms, treatment, and risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including how does diabetes affect the heart.

In addition to raising awareness, medical experts and government officials work to coordinate efforts to encourage federally funded efforts, including actions and education, to address cardiovascular disease and diabetes both individually and in regard to their comorbidity. 

Manage Your Diabetes, Protect Your Heart

When examining the question: “How does diabetes affect your heart?”, the answer reveals a web of interconnections in which protecting and caring for one helps you protect and care for the other.

Managing your diabetes helps you prevent heart disease, and taking steps to protect your heart from heart disease helps you to manage your diabetes. By the same token, a failure to take care of your heart health or manage your diabetes can lead to problems with both.

While diabetes and heart disease are both chronic and incurable conditions, new scientific advances and therapeutic options available can help reduce the danger of you developing heart issues.

With the right guidance and assistance from your cardiovascular and diabetes care teams and experts, you can proceed with living a healthy and productive life unimpeded by heart disease or diabetes.

What Is Thirdhand Smoke and How Does it Affect You?

What Is Thirdhand Smoke and How Does it Affect You?

Sometimes, you can smell the smoke of cigarettes hours, days, or even years after snubbing them out. This happens especially if someone smoked regularly in a room for prolonged periods of time. This is called thirdhand smoke.

Even though you aren’t directly inhaling any smoke, this lingering presence can still be harmful to your health.

Too many people willingly expose themselves to thirdhand smoke without understanding the risks it can pose.

So what is thirdhand smoke? What dangers does it pose? How can you keep yourself and your loved ones safe?

We’ll cover this and more below.

What Is Thirdhand Smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is the combination of tobacco smoke particles and gasses that stay in the air and on surfaces long after someone extinguishes a cigarette.

This residue sticks to walls, hair, clothes, carpets, and just about anything else it comes into contact with. Over time, these toxins can build up to dangerous levels, especially in enclosed spaces like homes and cars.

Thirdhand smoke is particularly harmful to young children and infants, who are more likely to put their hands or other objects contaminated with tobacco residue into their mouths.

People with persistent lung disease and seniors are also at a higher risk of health issues related to thirdhand smoke.

Though most people are aware of the dangers of first and secondhand smoke exposure, thirdhand smoke is still relatively unknown. However, that is changing.

There are a number of organizations working to raise awareness about the dangers of thirdhand smoke and ways to protect yourself from it. The goal is to educate as many people as possible about the risks of thirdhand smoke exposure so that they can take steps to protect themselves and their families.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a public education campaign called “Tips from Former Smokers,” which features real-life stories from people who have been affected by tobacco use. The CDC also provides resources for smoking cessation and protecting others from secondhand and thirdhand smoke exposure.

In addition, a number of state and local governments have passed laws restricting smoking in public places, which protects non-smokers from exposure to thirdhand smoke.

What Is the Difference Between Second Hand Smoke and Thirdhand Smoke?

It’s commonly known that the smoke exhaled by smokers or produced by the lit end of a cigarette can be harmful to others. If someone inhales the smoke from another’s cigarette, this is called “secondhand smoke”. It poses the same health risks as smoking directly. This type of smoke can linger in the air for hours, exposing non-smokers to its harmful chemicals.

While many believe secondhand smoke to be a mild threat at most, it causes more than 41,000 adult deaths and 400 infant deaths each year. This is because it contains 7,000+ chemicals, at least 70 of which are known to be carcinogenic.

Thirdhand smoke, however, is the residue left behind by tobacco smoke that clings to surfaces like walls, hair, clothes, and carpets. This residue contains the same harmful chemicals as secondhand smoke, and they can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or accidentally ingested.

The bottom line is that you should avoid both types of smoke as they can be dangerous to your health. Whether you smoke or not, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family

What Are the Dangers of Thirdhand Smoke?

The dangers posed by thirdhand smoke are not negligible. Exposure can cause DNA damage, increasing your risk of developing serious diseases like cancer.

Unfortunately, 22% of infants and children in the United States live in homes where there is regular exposure to thirdhand smoke, putting them at increased risk of developing respiratory infections. Infants, children, and the elderly are at heightened risk of developing respiratory problems due to thirdhand smoke exposure.

Thirdhand smoke has also been linked to other health risks, such as:

  • Blood clots: Thirdhand smoke exposure can damage platelets for developing babies, which can lead to serious health problems like heart attacks and strokes.
  • Slow wound healing: People who are exposed to thirdhand smoke have a prolonged and more difficult time healing from wounds.
  • Cognitive problems: Thirdhand smoke exposure has also been linked to cognitive problems like reading difficulties and other learning impairments in children.

There is mounting evidence that thirdhand smoke is especially dangerous in elderly care facilities; even if caregivers smoke outside the facility, the residue from tobacco can come inside on their clothing, hair, and skin, exposing patients to harmful toxins.

It’s also worth noting that thirdhand smoke is tough to remove. Even if you air out your home or car, and wash your clothes, the residue from tobacco smoke may still be present

Sometimes, the only way to truly get rid of it is to repaint walls or replace contaminated materials, like carpeting, upholstery, and drapes. This can be extremely costly, not to mention time-consuming.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Thirdhand smoke exposure still happens even when you don’t smoke. So how do you protect yourself from it?

  • Avoid places where people smoke: Including hotels, bars, and vehicles where you have no control over whether or not people smoke.
  • Don’t allow smoking in your home or car: This is especially important if you have young children or elderly family members who are more susceptible to the harmful effects of thirdhand smoke.
  • Choose non-smoking restaurants: When dining out, choose non-smoking establishments or, if available, sit in the non-smoking section.
  • Wash and disinfect your hands and clothes: If you’ve been in a place where people smoke, be sure to wash your hands and clothes to remove any residue that might still be on them.
  • Deep clean your carpets and upholstery: Use a deep-cleaning method, like steam cleaning, to remove thirdhand smoke from carpets and upholstery. You can also hire a professional cleaning service to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home.
  • Seek medical attention if you experience health problems: If you start feeling sick after exposure to thirdhand smoke, see a doctor immediately.

While there is no way to completely protect yourself from thirdhand smoke, following these tips can reduce your exposure.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it: everything you need to know about thirdhand smoke. This is important information to know so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

Although research into the risks associated with thirdhand smoke is still ongoing, it is abundantly clear that it’s dangerous.

Knowing the harmful effects of thirdhand smoke allows you to take steps to protect yourself and your family.

What Causes Balance Issues In Older Adults?

What Causes Balance Issues In Older Adults?

Every year, one in three older people in the U.S. and over one in four 65 years of age or older fall. One of the leading causes of disability among older adults is falling and this may happen due to gait and balance issues. Despite these alarming statistics, however, most falls can be prevented.

In this article, you will learn what causes balance issues, particularly in older adults, some of the most common balance issues older adults face, how to recognize when someone has balance issues and what to do about them to avoid falls, and the dangers they pose to health and safety.

Understanding Balance Issues

How you walk changes as you age. Your gait, stride, and other mobility factors can be affected by an array of both medical and lifestyle factors. After 50 years of age, balance issues can worsen when going from sitting to standing, walking around, or moving the head up and down or side-to-side.

If you experience balance issues that start negatively impacting your life, contact your doctor immediately.

What Is the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system, or the organ of balance, is a sensory system that provides the brain with information about spatial orientation, motion, and head position. It plays a pivotal role in motor functions that enable the body to maintain balance and posture and stabilize the body and head during movement. It is therefore an essential system for maintaining equilibrium and normal movement.

The ear is an intricate system of cartilage and bone. The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is composed of three semicircular canals and two organs all filled with fluid. 

Each of the semicircular canals is involved with a different motion of the head:

  • Moving up and down
  • Turning left and right
  • Tilting side to side

The two organs, or otolith organs, are similarly involved with the sense of acceleration and deceleration. 

As you move, the fluid in the semicircular canals and otolith organs changes position. Lining the inner walls of these canals and organs are tiny hairs that act as sensors, detecting these movements of fluid over them. 

These sensors then relay that information over nerves to the brain, thereby helping produce your sense of balance. 

How Does the Vestibular System Affect Balance?

When the brain receives signals from the sensors in the ear, it processes that information, then relays it to the muscles, joints, eyes, and other organs that use it to understand the position your body is in. 

By communicating the same information to all the involved body parts, the brain maintains a sense of balance. However, when certain circumstances send contradictory messages through the vestibular system to the brain (such as while sitting still in an airplane in rapid motion), it can throw off your sense of balance. 

What Causes Balance Issues in Older Adults?

Your ability to stay steady on your feet can become compromised by a range of factors, including:

  • Weakened muscles – Particularly core muscles.
  • Inner ear issues – The labyrinth is the part of the inner ear responsible for balance; when it gets inflamed, causing a condition known as labyrinthitis, imbalance and vertigo can result. (labyrinthitis can also be caused by certain infections and ear diseases.)
  • Certain medications – If you discover any balance issues while taking any medications, inform your doctor right away; you may be able to safely reduce the dosage you’re taking, a different medication may be available for you to take instead or the doctor may have suggestions to offer of ways to reduce those undesired effects. Such medications include antidepressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, anti-seizure drugs, and blood pressure medications that could cause your blood pressure to drop too low.
  • An illness, injury, chronic medical condition, or disorder – Such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, or issues involving your nerves, vision, blood vessels, or thyroid.
  • Alcohol – When there’s alcohol in the bloodstream, it can affect how the inner ear works, possibly leading to dizziness and other balance issues.

Each of these potential answers to what causes balance issues in older adults increases in likelihood as you grow older, thereby increasing your risk of falling due to one of these causes as you age. 

Some balance issues develop slowly and progressively over time, while others happen suddenly and seemingly without cause. 

What Are the Symptoms of Balance Issues?

As you lose your balance, there are a variety of related symptoms you may experience, such as nausea, dizziness, or unsteadiness. How you feel while losing your balance could differ significantly from how someone else feels when it happens to them. 

Some people describe feeling like they’re spinning despite that they’re actually standing still (otherwise known as vertigo, a type of vestibular balance disorder); others say it feels like they’re floating. Upon losing your balance, whatever symptoms you may feel could last from several minutes to several days. 

Other symptoms of possible balance issues include:

  • Falling or feeling like you are about to fall
  • Staggering as you attempt to walk
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Feeling anxious, afraid, or panicked
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms may be intermittent and only last for short periods or they may be chronic and lasting, ultimately leading to possible depression or fatigue. 

Speak with your doctor if you notice you’re having any of these symptoms, as any one of them can increase your risk of falling, tripping, and experiencing an injury. It can interfere with your life and give you anxiety. 

Symptoms Demanding Emergency Attention

Certain symptoms of possible balance issues could constitute an emergency requiring immediate medical attention, including:

  • Sudden, debilitating headache
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Severe vomiting
  • Numbness in the arms, legs, or face
  • Fainting
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Sudden differences in speech patterns
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Double vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures

Common Balance Problems

There are many different types of balance problems an older adult might experience. Below are several of the most common. If you or an older adult you know experiences any of these symptoms or conditions, seek medical aid immediately. 

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Most common in people over the age of 60, BPPV is a disturbance of the inner ear that could be due to an ear infection, head injury, or simply the process of aging, among other possible causes. It is marked by extreme vertigo while moving the head. It can even happen when rolling over in bed. 

Ménière’s Disease

A common sign of this disease is a feeling of “fullness” in the ear. Other symptoms may include vertigo, tinnitus (or a ringing in the ears), and periodic, intermittent loss of hearing.

Labyrinthitis

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear condition marked by inflammation and infection. It can often be traced to a case of flu.

Vestibular Balance Disorders

These are problems associated with the sensors in the inner ear that detect the position of the fluid in the ear canals and report this information to the brain in order to help establish a sense of balance. 

Chronic Conditions

Various chronic conditions can lead to balance issues. For instance, eye problems can make it harder to maintain your balance.

In addition, long-term medical conditions affecting the nervous system–such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease–can also impair balance. Heart problems, arthritis, and certain medicines older adults may take for a chronic illness can contribute to unsteadiness as well. 

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Shingles is a skin condition produced by a virus to which older adults may be more vulnerable. 

When the shingles virus affects facial nerves close to the ear, it causes a condition called Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. Among the symptoms of this syndrome is vertigo accompanied by hearing loss and ear pain. 

Why Do Balance Issues Affect Older Adults?

Losing balance can be a symptom of some other health conditions, many of which occur more commonly as a person’s body changes with age. Any of the health conditions that follow could lead to balance issues.

  • Sudden changes in blood pressure
  • Poor circulation
  • Neurological conditions
  • Low iron levels
  • Low blood sugar

Are There Any Treatments for Balance Issues

You can help alleviate some balance disorders with exercises involving moving the body and head in particular ways. A physical therapist or other healthcare professionals who understand what causes balance issues in older adults and how they relate to other bodily systems can help you devise the exercise program that can best address your balance issues. 

For example, to treat balance problems occurring due to high blood pressure, eat less sodium (salt,) exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. To treat those caused by low blood pressure, drink more water, avoid alcohol and be particularly cognizant of your body movement and posture (like avoiding standing up too fast.)

Before making any changes in your activity level or diet, consult your physician first. 

How to Identify Balance Issues

By answering a few pertinent questions, you can help determine whether or not a balance issue exists, specifically:

  • Do you feel like you’re moving even though you know you’re actually sitting still or standing?
  • Do you feel dizzy or like the room is spinning around you, even if only periodically and briefly?
  • Do you get blurry vision?
  • Do you feel unsteady?
  • Do you feel like you’re falling?
  • Do you lose your balance and fall?

If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then you may want to discuss with your doctor whether you have any balance issues or risk factors for balance issues and, if so, what to do about it.

How to Cope With Balance Issues

You may not always be able to completely relieve a balance issue, in which case you have to cope with it. With the help of a vestibular rehabilitation therapist, you can devise a customized treatment plan.

Fall Prevention

To prevent falls, start by closely examining the older adult’s home environment. Is the home an older one with more than one set of stairs and/or poor lighting? Follow these guidelines to make corrections as necessary in order to reduce the risk of falls.

  • Discuss with your doctor all the potential side effects and interactions of the medications you’re taking.
  • Use night lights, secure carpeting to the floors, and install grab bars in the bathroom.
  • When standing, do it slowly to avoid getting dizzy.
  • Perform balance and strength exercises.
  • Regularly have your hearing and vision checked.
  • If you require greater stability, use a walker or cane.

Recap

Balance issues can result from a number of different factors, many of which are more common among older adults.

If you believe you may have issues with your balance or have concerns that another condition or symptom you’re experiencing may lead to problems with your balance, call your doctor to set up a visit as soon as possible.

You may be referred to an otolaryngologist, a doctor specially trained in problems involving the neck, head, ear, nose, and throat.

How Long Does It Take to Lower Cholesterol?

How Long Does It Take to Lower Cholesterol?

If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, you might be wondering how long it will take to see results.

The answer isn’t always straightforward, as it depends on a few factors. But, in general, you can expect to see some improvements within a few months.

This article will explore how long it takes to lower cholesterol and what you can do to speed up the process.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. Although your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.

There are two types of cholesterol:

  1. LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein)

Because it can build up in your arteries and cause plaque, LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol.

Plaque is a sticky substance that can narrow your arteries and make it hard for blood to flow through them. Because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, HDL cholesterol is often described as “good” cholesterol.

Normal cholesterol levels are:

  • LDL cholesterol: Less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL cholesterol: 40 mg/dL or higher
  • Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL

If your levels are above these numbers, you may be at risk for heart disease.

How Long Does It Take to Lower Cholesterol?

It’s a common question, and unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on a number of factors:

  • Your Starting Point – Your starting point is perhaps the most important factor in how long it will take to lower your cholesterol. If you have very high cholesterol, it may take longer to see results than if you have only slightly elevated levels.
  • The Severity of Your Condition – If you have other risk factors for heart disease (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease), it may take longer to lower your cholesterol.
  • Your Age and Gender – Older adults and women tend to have higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which can help protect against heart disease. This may mean that it takes longer to see results.
  • Your Diet – If you eat a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol, it will take longer to lower your cholesterol than if you eat a healthy diet. This is because your diet has a direct impact on your cholesterol levels.
  • Your Lifestyle – If you smoke, don’t exercise, and are overweight, it will take longer to lower your cholesterol. This is because these lifestyle factors can contribute to high cholesterol levels. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help you see results faster.

If you have any questions about how long it will take to lower your cholesterol, be sure to ask your doctor. They can help you create a personalized plan to reach your goals.

Other Important Things to Remember about Cholesterol:

If your cholesterol is only slightly elevated, you may be able to lower it by making lifestyle changes alone. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. These changes can take some time to have an effect, but they’re worth it in the long run.

If your cholesterol is more than 200 mg/dL, you may need medication as well as lifestyle changes to lower it. Medications called statins are usually the first choice.

These drugs can start working within a few weeks, but it may take up to six months to see the full effect. If you have other health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, you may need to take more than one medication.

It’s important to stick with your treatment plan, even if you don’t see results right away. And remember, it takes time to lower cholesterol.

Making lifestyle changes can be hard, but the payoff is worth it in the form of a healthier heart. So, keep at it, and talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

What Causes High Cholesterol Levels?

High cholesterol levels can be caused by many factors, such as:

Genetics

One of the most common causes of high cholesterol levels is genetics. If your parents or grandparents had high cholesterol, chances are you will, too. If this is the case, you’ll benefit from being more mindful of your diet and lifestyle choices.

Unhealthy Diet

A diet high in saturated and trans fats can cause your cholesterol levels to rise. Foods like red meat, full-fat dairy products, processed foods, and vegetable oils are all common culprits.

On the other hand, a diet rich in healthy fats (such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados) can actually help lower your cholesterol levels.

Lack of Exercise

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you are more likely to have high cholesterol levels. Regular exercise helps to increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels and decrease your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Smoking

Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your cholesterol levels. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes damage the LDL particles, making them more likely to stick to the artery walls.

If you don’t quit smoking, it will be very difficult to lower your cholesterol levels.

Obesity

Being overweight or obese is another major risk factor for high cholesterol. Fat cells produce more triglycerides, which are a type of fat that can raise your cholesterol levels. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels.

Diabetes

If you have diabetes, your body may not process cholesterol properly, which can also lead to higher levels. This is because high levels of sugar in the blood can damage the LDL particles, making them more likely to stick to the artery walls.

Age

As you get older, your cholesterol levels tend to rise. This is because the arteries become more rigid and less able to remove LDL from the blood. Women also have a higher risk of developing high cholesterol than men. This is due to changes in hormones during menopause.

What Are the Dangers of Having High Cholesterol Levels?

High cholesterol is a serious health concern because it can lead to different life-threatening health problems, such as:

  • Stroke – One of the dangers of having high cholesterol levels is that it can lead to a stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, and this can happen if there is a blockage in an artery. High cholesterol levels can cause this blockage because it can build up on the walls of arteries.
  • Heart Attack – Another danger of having high cholesterol levels is that it can lead to a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is interrupted, and this can happen if there is a blockage in an artery. High cholesterol levels can cause this blockage because it can build up on the walls of arteries.
  • High Blood Pressure – High cholesterol levels can also lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood against your artery walls is too high. Over time, this can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease, stroke, and other problems. If you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, it’s important to lower both numbers.
  • Kidney Disease – High cholesterol levels can also lead to kidney disease. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are not able to filter the blood properly. If you have kidney disease, you may need to take medication to lower your cholesterol.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) – High cholesterol levels can also lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD is a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the limbs are narrowed or blocked. This can lead to different health problems, such as stroke and heart attack. Therefore, you must take measures to lower your cholesterol as soon as possible.

Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Effectively

Despite what you may have heard, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes to lower cholesterol. The reality is that how quickly your cholesterol levels improve depends on a number of factors, including your age, weight, diet, and activity level.

That said, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help improve your cholesterol levels. Let us explore them in more detail below:

1. Establish a Healthy Diet

One of the most important things you can do to lower your cholesterol is to eat a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

You should also limit your intake of saturated fat, trans fat, and sugar. In addition to eating healthy foods, you should also pay attention to how much you’re eating. Overeating can lead to weight gain, which can in turn raise your cholesterol levels.

2. Engage in Regular Exercise

Another great way to lower your cholesterol is to exercise regularly. aerobic exercise, in particular, has been shown to be effective at reducing cholesterol levels.

So, how much exercise do you need to do? The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. That comes out to about 30 minutes of exercise, five days per week.

3. Quit Smoking

If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your cholesterol levels. Smoking damages your blood vessels and makes it harder for your body to remove LDL (bad) cholesterol from your bloodstream. Quitting smoking will help improve your overall health and lower your risk of heart disease.

4. Take Medications

In some cases, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to lower cholesterol levels. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe medications to help.

There are a number of different cholesterol-lowering medications available, including statins, bile acid sequestrants, and niacin. These medications can be effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels and reducing your risk of heart disease.

5. Visit Your Doctor Regularly

Regular check-ups are very important, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. During these appointments, your doctor will check your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

They may also recommend lifestyle changes or medications to help lower your risk of heart disease.

6. Cut Fat Consumption

These days, it’s hard to avoid consuming fat. It’s in so many of the foods we eat, from french fries to hamburgers. However, it’s important to limit your fat intake if you want to lower your cholesterol levels.

Saturated and trans fats are the worst offenders when it comes to cholesterol. So, try to avoid these as much as possible. Instead, focus on eating healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados.

If you can’t immediately start following all of the tips above, don’t worry. Making even small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your cholesterol levels.

So, start with one or two of the tips and work your way up from there. And, remember to talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Even though the process of lowering cholesterol takes time, it is well worth the effort. By making some simple lifestyle changes, you can improve your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Bottom Line

High cholesterol levels can contribute to the development of heart disease. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and medication to help lower your cholesterol levels. These treatments can take weeks or months to be effective.

If you have high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about how you can lower your risk for heart disease. This way, you can immediately start taking steps to protect your heart health. Don’t wait to lower your cholesterol levels. The sooner you start, the better.