Slum Health: Living Conditions & Common Diseases
A slumdog is an inhabitant of a slum-dwelling community who lives in dilapidated houses, tenements, or squats. The word ‘slumdog’ derives from the and Hindi word ‘Laavaaris’, which means “street-urchin”. In most cases, the inhabitants of these areas are homeless and belong to the lowest rungs of the Indian economy.
As a result, their situation is insecure and they face various problems like discrimination at the hands of the majority community members, local authorities, and outsiders. A slumdog’s life is tenuous and he/she cannot afford to buy a house, rent a home, or own property on a decent salary.
For this reason, they remain exposed to a number of perils that are common to other low-class citizens of townships and cities: disease, malnutrition, exposure to dangerous drugs, and crime. The poor living conditions and the cramped quarters in which the dwellers live make them vulnerable to a wide variety of illnesses, diseases, and ailments.
Most common among the many diseases that are spread through the damp conditions in which slum dwellers live are
Asthma is a condition in which the airways in the lungs become inflamed and narrow, causing difficulty in breathing. It can have multiple causes, including hereditary, viral and environmental. Scientists still continue to study what triggers asthma, but don’t know exactly what causes asthma: Heredity. External allergens.
Environmental factors also play a role in asthmatics’ developing asthma and continue to investigate what triggers asthma in people of all ages: Pollens. Some pollens have been linked to asthma and rhinitis (affecting the nose). Another environmental factor that has been suspected is air pollution.
However, evidence to support this idea is very weak and many studies are contradictory. Straining the airways during sleep or sneezing seems to relax them enough to begin blocking airways again. This theory is not based in solid research, but is suggestive and deserves further investigation.
People with asthma should not wait until their doctor comes to the conclusion that their symptoms are asthma-causing before they start keeping a clean house by using environmentally friendly products. Using products that are greasy or scented can irritate the respiratory system and worsen asthma symptoms.
People with asthma should take quick action if they feel they are having an attack, such as a sudden cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, or light-headedness. Asthma attacks are not pleasant and can leave the patient very tired and exhausted. The best thing a patient can do for himself or herself is to maintain a clean home by using environmentally friendly products and remaining alert to any signs of asthma.
Tuberculosis is one of the most common infectious diseases in India. It causes pulmonary infection characterized by severe fatigue, weight loss, decreased appetite, swollen lymph nodes in the neck and chest, emaciation, and inflammation of the skin, eyes, and ears. Tuberculosis has been called as black plague due to the fact that many persons who have been infected with it also develop symptoms of the plague. This includes
- Painful coughing
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and chest
- Painful urination
- Dark night sweats
- Increased tendency to cough
Tuberculosis can affect any person, even those who are healthy. The rapid spread of tubercular diseases such as tuberculosis has led to various kinds of tubercular diseases that are affecting people from urban slums. According to the National Health Information Center, one in every 4 children living in the slum areas of the city is affected by one form or other of tuberculosis.
One of the most fatal forms of tuberculosis is pulmonary tuberculosis. This is often contracted through insect bites, inhaling of contaminated air, and touching objects that have been used by the anemic person. This is the reason why tuberculosis is becoming one of the most widespread diseases among the urban poor.
One of the major reasons for the alarming epidemic of tuberculosis is the unhygienic conditions of urban slums. The unsanitary conditions of these slums have made the occurrence of tuberculosis very common.
The unsanitary conditions are mainly caused due to the lack of toilet facilities, poor health care facilities, and exposure to all types of infectious agents such as sponges and mosquitoes. These factors increase the odds of getting afflicted with tuberculosis, and hence it has become one of the major causes for the increasing death rate amongst the urban poor.
HIV/AIDS is a serious and incurable condition affecting many adults and children alike all over the world. Although there have been many treatments and prevention methods developed, there is still no known cure. Those who are diagnosed with HIV usually live in poverty and are the victims of social stigmatization.
They face many barriers to having a normal life, including isolation from friends, schools, work, and family. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has affected every aspect of society from the inner-city minority groups to the white European countries.
HIV affects the HIV-infected individuals not only in developed countries but also in the most impoverished regions of the developing world. The response to this rising health concern has been a focus on prevention and early treatment of HIV and AIDS.
One method of HIV prevention that has gained much popularity is the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART). This involves taking anti-HIV drugs to suppress the virus. Currently, there are more than 11 million HIV patients in the United States and about one million of these people are diagnosed annually.
Most of those living with HIV are the HIV-positive people living in the slums of metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Johannesburg, South Africa. These communities are considered to be high risk because they have low income, frequent diarrhea and blood transfusions, unsafe practices of drug use, and poor sanitation.
The HIV prevalence rate in the urban poor is reported to be above 20 percent, with higher rates observed in adolescent males. Although the number of people infected with HIV and AIDS is increasing in the urban poor, the number of people who are living with HIV and AIDS is slowly decreasing in the urban centers.
In the past, HIV/AIDS was not considered a serious health concern among the urban poor. However, due to the drastic increase in crime rate, more HIV/AIDS cases were reported in the slums of metropolitan cities. HIV/AIDS is considered a silent killer especially in the black communities.
In some communities in the slums, the HIV prevalence rate is as high as 50 percent. Most of these HIV-infected dwellers live without any access to medical facilities or insurance coverage. The lack of access to medical care and reliable health facilities is one of the reasons why the HIV prevalence rate in the urban poor is increasing.
HIV has no gender preference; however, it targets men mostly. Most of the HIV-positive individuals in the slum dwellers do not inform about their status. Some HIV-negative persons infect others through casual sex and do not tell about themselves.
Since most of the HIV-positive residents in the slums do not seek medical attention, they are not aware of the risks they are exposing their sexual partners. This is one of the major reasons why it is difficult for HIV-positive individuals to find suitable treatment facilities and aid.
HIV/AIDS is still considered a criminal offense in the majority of the African countries and even in some developed countries. The governments crack down harshly on those who have the virus. People who are diagnosed with HIV face many restrictions and penalties including life imprisonment.
There are still no provisions for HIV-positive individuals who have not transmitted HIV to any other person. Those who are HIV-positive are mostly forced to leave the slum communities and live in rural areas. The alarming statistics of HIV prevalence in the urban slums of New Delhi, Mumbai, and other major cities are a challenge for the global community to fight the alarming epidemic.
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections are extremely common, happening in 1 out of every five women sometime during their adult life. Although UTIs are extremely common in young women, they are also found to occur to older adults, men and even children. One in every two to three children will develop urinary tract infections.
The most common causes of UTI are prolonged sitting, diarrhea, or repeated use of public toilets. Urinary tract infections can be treated with the help of antibiotics. In most cases, however, it is necessary to see a doctor for proper treatment. If the antibiotics do not work, other treatments can be used including, surgery, or ultrasound therapy.
It is also possible to get cured of urinary tract infections using natural remedies. Natural remedies can be herbal teas, cranberry juice, water, diet, exercise, and lots of rest. Drinking plenty of water and having a healthy diet can help to keep your bladder empty which will prevent frequent infections.
It is also possible for women to have it, without going to the doctor. Women who feel better when they change their sanitary habits or who have more frequent urination can sometimes clear up their infections with natural remedies without a doctor’s prescription.
Drinking lots of pure water, eating lots of fiber, getting exercise, and eating foods rich in nutrients like the Vitamin B complex can make you feel better and keep you away from bacterial infections. When you feel better, you are less likely to contract a urinary tract infection.
Most women develop UTIs because they have poor bowel habits. Foods that are high in sugar can cause an increase in urine production, which will lead to a need to empty your bladder often. Eating foods that are high in fiber, like vegetables, whole grains and legumes, can reduce your need to empty your bladder often.
Food that is high in protein can also increase the rate at which your urine empties itself out, which can lead to repeated episodes of urinary tract infections. When you eat food that helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your body, you can help your body’s immune system stay strong and healthy so that it is less susceptible to urinary tract infections and other urinary problems.
There are several risk factors for developing UTI. Age is one of the biggest risk factors. The older you get the more chance that you are going to develop an infection. Sexually active women are at a higher risk for UTI. Having intercourse with a new partner also increases your chances of getting a UTI.
Other factors that can increase your chances of getting a UTI are having a bad immune system and not drinking enough water. If you do drink enough water, however, it is important that you make sure that you wash away any leftover bacteria in your urine as soon as possible.
Taking cranberry juice or drinking tea on a daily basis can help flush the bacteria out of your body and prevent urinary tract infections. Drinking enough water can help your kidneys stay healthy and help you avoid developing UTI in the future.
Bacterial infections are an all too common sight on our streets and in our homes; they are also the leading cause of death in countries like India and the US. The most common type of bacterial infection is the staph infection caused by streptococcus bacteria, with over two million people suffering from a staph infection in the UK alone.
The majority of these staph infections are self-limiting; they cause symptoms such as fever and skin rash but do not develop into a more dangerous infection. The majority of staph infections are treated using antibiotics, although if a case persists the doctor may opt for a penicillin-based antibiotic.
Unfortunately, antibiotic resistance to antibiotics has now affected even minor forms of illness and disease and there is now a danger of antibiotic resistance affecting more serious bacterial infections, including HIV/AIDS and cancer. The global burden of antibiotic resistant strains of E. Coli can lead to increased mortality due to heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
If antibiotics are used to treat mild cases of staph infections, there is every chance that they will be ineffective against more serious bacterial infections such as those associated with HIV/AIDS and cancer. However, researchers are now working feverishly on methods of preventing the resistance process from developing into AIDS.
Bacterial infections are often caused by people coming in contact with contaminated food and water, poor hygiene and poor diet. Contaminated food and water can contain traces of salmonella, patho-phobic bacteria or other harmful bacteria.
Poor diet includes eating too much-processed foods and sugary foods. Sweating in the hot sun and damp conditions lead to the growth of bacteria in the skin and around the outer wall of the mouth. All of these factors combine to create a perfect environment for bacteria to develop into unhealthy bacterial infections such as
- Strep throat
When a person develops an illness caused by bacteria causing bacterial infections, he or she may experience a wide array of symptoms. These symptoms can range from minor irritations to deadly problems. It is important that anyone who experiences a symptom of a bacterial infection sees their doctor as quickly as possible.
Only a doctor can properly diagnose the problem and determine which treatment is best for your specific condition. There are many over-the-counter remedies available to help relieve symptoms, but it is important that you take the proper steps to become informed on how these medications affect your body’s normal functions and the potential risks of taking them.
Your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic that will cure the bacterial infections. You should still follow his or her advice regarding proper diet and sanitation to prevent future occurrences. You can also choose to use home remedies to treat your Bacterial infections.
Popular home remedies include drinking plenty of fluids, eating plain yogurt, soaking cotton balls or gauze in alcohol, and gently cleaning around the affected area with a damp cloth. Although they may not kill bacteria as quickly as prescription antibiotics, home treatments can often relieve symptoms within a few days of starting them.
If you have had a Bacterial infection before and it has been cured with antibiotics, there is a good chance that you will get another one if you do not take better precautions. Antibiotics can cause serious side effects and can be quite expensive over time.
Home remedies to treat Bacterial infections, however, are less costly and carry no serious side effects. It is important, however, that anyone who has had a diagnosis of this disease seeks medical attention immediately in order to avoid a relapse. Medical attention is imperative in order to determine the root cause of your Bacterial infections as well as finding the best way to treat them and keep them from coming back again.
It’s estimated that approximately 6.9 million instances of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2020 worldwide, nearly double the number of cervical cancers projected in just five years. This is the second leading cause of malignant primary ovarian cancer, following only men.
In all cancer types, it is the second most common cause of death after lung cancer. It’s also estimated there will be nine.2 million new cases of cervical cancer in 2020, just over half of which will probably be diagnoses in women. This highlights the need for more funding and research into this disease and strategies to treat and prevent its onset.
A lack of cervical cancer awareness has hindered the ability for low income women in low-income communities to receive necessary screening tests and treatment for their reproductive health. Screening tests can help detect cervical cancer early on, before it spreads to other parts of the body or to any partners in a relationship.
Cervical cancer is very similar to most other cancers in the reproductive system and it has similar symptoms. Early detection makes a huge difference in how effective treatments are and how long someone lives. Unfortunately, many women living in slum communities or developing countries do not have access to medical screening programs.
“Cervical cancer is not something you get necessarily when you are young and healthy. You need to think about getting screened at an age where it is not as easy to find out if you have pre-cancerous cells in the cervix,” according to an executive director of the International Cancer Relief Program (ICPRP), based in New Delhi, India.
“Cervical cancer is a problem that has a lot of impact on women’s lives and a lot of impact on the lives of their families and communities.” Approximately half of the people living with cervical cancer do not know they have the condition, according to statistics.
In countries that have high maternal deaths or infant mortality, the rate of cervical cancer deaths is two to three times higher than in countries with low rates, according to research. Many researchers believe the reason for this difference in risk factors is a lack of sexual education.
Sexual education is now considered a universal health care strategy in countries around the world. However, many of the developing countries do not have programs in place and do not have the resources to provide educational materials to families and individuals.
There are some areas of the country that have been identified with the highest incidences of the disease. These areas include Andhra Pradesh in the north, Telangana in the south, Karnataka in the west and Tamil Nadu in the east. Most of the cervical cancer deaths in India occur among the Indian slum dwellers.
According to an HIV/AIDS prevalence survey conducted in eight cities across the country, the most infected area was the slum of Mumbai. This is despite the fact that Mumbai is one of the most developed cities in India. The study also showed that despite the availability of adequate public health services, the level of awareness about Cervical cancer remains very low in these areas.
This lack of information may be because of a lack of data collection. With adequate and consistent data collection from all parts of the country, researchers will have a greater opportunity to increase the general awareness of Cervical cancer. In addition to increasing awareness of Cervical cancer through data collection, efforts should be made to reduce the stigma associated with this disease to ensure its access by all. There is still much to be done to improve the quality of life of the people living in areas with high incidences of this disease.
There are various kinds of heart diseases. Some are genetic, while others are caused by external factors like smoking or unhealthy diet. Some of them even occur due to abnormal heart functioning. Some of the most common ones are cardiomyopathy, congenital cardiomyopathy and coronary artery disease.
Cardiomyopathy is an abnormality of the cardiac muscle, which results in abnormal enlargement of the heart. It is the congenital disease of the myocardial blood vessels or the branches of the cardiomyopathy. This is the most common cause of death by cardiovascular disease in the United States.
There are many different kinds of congenital heart diseases, which are caused by abnormalities in the congenital development of the heart cells. Some of these are
- Chronic coronary syndromes
- Congenital cardiomyopathy, and so on.
There are other kinds of heart diseases caused by infections, which occur in the outer regions of the heart. These include infections from bacteria called Staphylococcus, infections caused by fungi called Aspergillus, or infections caused by viruses called Epstein-Barr.
There are also a variety of infections, which affect the valves of the heart muscle, which widens it, shrinks it, or causes a partial herniation. Infections of the lungs, diabetes, lung cancer, and heart valves are also very common. People who suffer from diabetes or have high blood pressure may suffer from infections of the heart.
Some other common heart diseases are familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, valvular insufficiency and sudden cardiac arrest. Follicular cardiomyopathy is a condition that occurs due to abnormal growth of the cells of the heart tissue. This kind of growth occurs due to abnormal hormonal regulation in the ovary.
Family medical history has to be ascertained to find out the possible contribution of such lifestyle habits. People who smoke, drink heavily or do not exercise regularly are more likely to develop this disease than others. It can sometimes be controlled to a certain extent with medication and changes in diet and lifestyle habits.
The most common symptoms of heart diseases are discomfort in the chest, breathlessness, palpitations, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, tightness in the chest. These symptoms need to be evaluated by the doctor with a physical exam. If you feel that you have some of these symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above for the first time, and you have not had a previous physical exam, your doctor might need to order one. Also, if you do have a previous physical exam and the previous symptoms are still present, your doctor might need to refer you to a cardiologist.
Symptoms of heart diseases include
- Coronary heart disease
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Recurrent acute myocardial infarction,
- Ventricular fibrillation
- Atrial fibrillation
- Atrial flutter
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Cholesterol disorder
- Mental disease
- Psychiatric disease
Other diseases that commonly co-occur with heart disease include
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psychiatric disorders
- Other systemic disorders
Most of these conditions need a thorough evaluation by a heart specialist. If you have any of these conditions, you should contact your family doctor or a general practitioner and make an appointment immediately.
All these can be life-threatening; hence a slumdog must seek medical help as soon as it is suspected that any of these afflictions is present in him/her.
Slumdog health is very poor
Many people do not bathe regularly, let alone wash their hands after visiting the toilet. They keep on using dirty diapers, which often leads to infections. Children in these communities also suffer from rudimentary health facilities, as they are unable to attend school and receive a quality education. As a result, most of them remain ignorant about proper hygiene.
A slumdog needs a slumdog doctor who can guide him towards proper health care. Most slumdog doctors practice outdated techniques of medical treatment that is too commonly used by the doctors in western countries. The common practice followed by these slum doctors is offering treatment without considering the causative factor.
The only difference between a slum dweller’s treatment and that of a doctor working in a western hospital is that a slum dweller’s treatment is usually not covered by insurance companies. This makes treatment unaffordable for many poor families. On the other hand, a hospital visit would cost much, especially for families who cannot afford it.
Health problems faced by a slumdog are manifold
Drowning and malnutrition are common in slum-dwellers. Children do not get the nutrition needed to survive. They are more likely to contract diseases like typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea.
Dental hygiene is another problem common in slums. Most of the inhabitants engaged in manual labour like cleaning and maintenance of public toilets face serious dental problems. Children often lack proper teeth and they are not interested in attending schools or even college as their primary school experiences are so poor. The reasons for this are many and are unfortunately beyond a slum-dweller’s control.
The main reason why the health conditions in slums are getting worst is because there are no advanced facilities available for them. The Government has made provision for slum-dwellers, but they are yet to be properly constructed.
Slum-dwellers are often malnourished, their hygienic conditions are poor and their health is generally so poor that they become desperate for any aid. The problem of hygiene prevalent in poor health care facilities is also worsened by the lack of qualified professionals.
All these facts lead to a situation where the health of the slum-dwellers are just as poor as the health of the common people. They need immediate attention and hence the main stream media have started to highlight the poor health conditions prevailing in the slums.
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