The 27th of May is Non-communicable Disease Prevention Day, and it’s therefore a good time to get to know and understand the diseases in this group: what they are; whether or not they can be prevented; and if so, how.
What Are NCDs?
NCDs refers to a group of chronic medical conditions and/or diseases that cannot be communicated from one person to another, hence the title of non-communicable diseases. These non-infectious diseases are often caused by a person’s behavior, lifestyle, and environment. They generally progress slowly and gradually, and the symptoms tend to accumulate steadily over time. They are usually chronic in nature, and thus NCDs could be categorized as a group of chronic diseases.
Examples of NCDs
Behavioral Risk Factors…NCD Generators
A major cause of diseases in the NCD group is something known as behavioral risk factors. These are matters of lifestyle and behavior, whether it be eating foods with strong flavors or tastes, such as foods which are too sweet or too salty, high-fat foods, and charred or grilled foods; drinking alcohol; smoking; not exercising; going to bed too late; high stress levels; or taking drugs or medications without consulting a physician. It goes without saying that people with these lifestyle habits or behaviors will be more vulnerable to NCDs than other people.
Severity of NCDs
Although NCDs are non-communicable, according to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), it has been found that over the past 10 years, NCDs have become the number one cause of deaths in Thailand, with 14 million Thais having some form of NCD and with fatalities from NCDs in Thailand alone now up to about 300,000 per year.
Behavior Modification: Reducing the Risk of NCDs
NCD prevention begins with some simple steps—it starts with adjusting our own lifestyles and modifying our own behavior. For example:
- Focus on making healthy food choices from all five food groups, with special emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid foods that are overly sweet, overly salty, high in fat, or even grilled.
- Exercise regularly: 30 minutes a day, at least 5 times a week.
- Refrain from drinking alcohol.
- Stop smoking.
- Get sufficient rest.
- Have regular annual medical check-ups.
- Take medications only as prescribed by a physician. Do not take any medications without first consulting your doctor or a registered pharmacist.
- If you notice any unusual symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Compiled by the Patient Education Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital