Monday, July 08, 2013

Old Age Problems and Homoeopathy

Common old age problems and homoeopathic management

Ageing is not always a happy experience for many. It comes along with certain psychological issues like insecurity, stress and anxiety, dependency, etc. and with some physical ailments. None can stop ageing; but we can take away the feeling of ageing with providing good quality of life, engaging in different activities and positive thinking. As an Irish novelist and poet C.S. Lewis once wrote “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. One can make this statement possible with proper diet, possible physical exercises, and better awareness about the diseases that affect the old age.

As the nature takes its course, certain basic knowledge about the signs and symptoms of such affections can enable elders to tackle them and age gracefully.  The common problems during the later stage of life include cataract, dementia, diabetes, senile gait syndrome, easy exhaustion, hypertension and other cardiac problems, knee and other joint ailments, loss of hearing, palpitation, poor immune response, reduced physical activity, vertigo, vision impairment, low immune response, and many others. Many elders manage these problems with a homoeopathic kit containing 15-20 drugs. Homoeopathy eases their routine life and offers peace and solace. The purpose of this article is to list the common signs and symptoms of elderly with their probable causes/conditions and common homoeopathic remedies.

What is ageing and active ageing?
Ageing is defined in different ways by many authors, books and dictionaries. It is the irreversible biological changes in a person over time. Though it renders human beings progressively towards death, our objective is to provide better quality of life and to minimize their sufferings, which is called “active ageing”. WHO (World Health Organisation) defines “active ageing” as the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups. Active ageing allows people to realize their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.

Why is old age vulnerable to health issues?
In a young person, the body’s defence system functions actively and effectively. After certain age, this system gradually weakens attracting the diseases. The immune response to diseases becomes low. It allows many diseases to affect easily and the deteriorated cells put more fuel on it.

Yellow line between self medication and physician’s consultation
Usually multiple conditions affect elderly people. Self medication for managing the problems should be limited to minor problems and if the symptoms are not relieved one has to consult a physician. Sometimes people keep on self medicating without knowing the disease’s progression which may be harmful.

Diet in geriatrics
Since the body’s ability to digest the food may reduce at this stage, fibre-rich food can help in digesting easily. Since the absorption is normally lower in elderly, supplements like vitamins and minerals may be taken if need arises. People affected by diabetics, hypertension and other illnesses need to take specific diet suggested for such illnesses.

Common signs and symptoms, their indications and commonly used homoeopathic drugs

Common sign/symptom
What is it indicated for
Homoeopathic management
It is a common problem affecting elderly due to ageing process of alimentary canal. It affects the intestinal motility and the ability to digest the food.
Ambra grisea (frequent, ineffectual desire, which makes anxious), Antimonium crudum (alternating with diarrhoea), Arnica (rectum loaded but faeces will not come away), Baryta carbonica (hard knotty stool), Conium (frequent burning but hard and tenesmus), Phosphorus (white hard stool)
Cloudy vision
Cataract – over 50% of human population above the age of 60 years have cataract.
Corneal opacity – opacity in the cornea affects the vision
Calcarea fluorica 3x/6x (cataract and keratitis), Calcarea iodata 3x (opacity of cornea), Phosphorus (retinal troubles with lights and hallucination of vision), Silicea (cataract in office workers, after effects of keratitis, use 30th potency for months), CMS eye drops (cataract and corneal opacities 1-2 drops to be instilled 2-3 times a day)
Research suggests delirium affects up to 56% of older people admitted to hospital. The syndrome has not been well studied in residential care, but what data is available suggests a rate at least as high as that found in acute settings. It may be due to various causes like fever/inflammation, infection, neurological disorders, pain, dehydration, urinary retention, sensory impairment, drug effects, etc.
Aconitum napellus (nocturnal furious delirium), Agaricus muscarius (characterized by singing, shouting, and muttering; rhymes and prophesies), Arsenicum album (worse after mid-night), Belladonna (with restless sleep, frightful images and due to pain), Bryonia (talks about business matters), Cannabis indica (delirium tremens), Hyoscyamus (with attempt to run away), Lachesis (stupor or muttering delirium), Lycopodium (delirium even in low forms of fever), Opium (delirium with frightful visions, of mice, scorpions), Stramonium (delirium, with desire to escape), Veratrum album (attacks of pain, with delirium driving to madness)
Due to ageing, there is a progressive decline of intellectual function, which leads to forgetfulness. Insufficient blood circulation to the brain also causes senile dementia.
Acidum phosphoricum (cannot remember what he has read, and forgets names), Alumina (has to make notes to not forget), Ambra grisea (dull and mental slowness, unable to count), Anacardium (sudden loss of memory), Baryta carbonica (loss of memory from mental weakness), Bacopa monnieri Ø/1x (recent researches suggest it helps improved mental function like better acquisition of knowledge, improved retention and delayed extinction), Conium (excessive difficulty in recollecting), Crotallus horidus (clouded perception and memory), Ginseng Ø/1x (weak memory with difficult thinking process), Ginkgo biloba Ø/1x (improves the cerebral blood flow, helps to treat and prevent problems with memory, senility and mental dullness), Lycopodium (weak memory with confused thoughts)
Giddiness/ vertigo
It indicates normal ageing process of eyes, equilibrium organ in the inner ear and sensors in the muscles and joints for the sense of position, which are important organs to maintain equilibrium.
Ambra grisea (intense vertigo in open air), Arsenicum iodatum (with tremulous feeling), Baryta carbonica (when standing in the Sun), Conium maculatum (when lying down, and when turning over in bed, when turning head sidewise, or turning eyes), Cuprum metallicum (with internal tremor, better by stool), Gelsemium (spreading from occiput with dim vision),  Ginseng Ø/1x (with gray spots before eyes, objects appear double), Phosphorus (with coldness of occiput, worse after raising)
Another reason could be insufficient blood circulation to the brain.
Ginkgo biloba Ø/1x (due to insufficient cerebral circulation)
Hearing impairment
Most commonly, it is caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as people grow older. However, genetics and history of exposure to loud noises play a lead role.
Baryta carbonica (hardness of hearing), Cicuta virosa (Difficult hearing and sudden detonations especially on swallowing), Kalium muriaticum (due to chronic, catarrhal conditions of the middle ear with snapping and noises in the ear), Petroleum (dry catarrh, with deafness and noises), Phosphorus (difficult hearing especially after typhoid)
Common reason being prostatic hypertrophy in male and menopause in female, it could also be due to other causes like inflamed bladder, nerve control weakness, conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
Acidum benzoicum (Enuresis with dribbling and offensive urine in men), Argentum nitricum (Urine passes unconsciously, day and night), Arsenicum album (involuntary urination with burning and scanty urine), Aurum muriaticum (incontinence worse at night after dropsy), Baryta carbonica (urging to urinate with burning in urethra on urinating, mainly due to prostatic enlargement), Causticum (while coughing, sneezing; with very slow expulsion; with retention especially after surgical operations; during first sleep at night; from slightest excitement; with loss of sensibility on passing urine), Cicuta virosa (enuresis may be associated with frequent urination), Conium maculatum (common in men having difficulty in voiding), Iodium (in people losing flesh with great appetite), Secale cornutum (suitable in old people with shriveled skin-thin, scrawny old women), Thuja (with sudden desire, but cannot be controlled)
Pruritus (generalised itching, dryness of skin and related problems
Like cataract, reports suggest more than half of all people aged over 60 years is affected by pruritus. More common in diabetics.
Azadiracta indica Ø/1x (strong clinical observations for skin diseases, boils, ulcers, eczema & scabies from impurities of blood), Cardiospermum Ø (externally used; its antipruritic action is proven not only in practice, but also in a number of different clinical studies), Echinacea angustifolia Ø/1x (known for symptoms of skin symptoms related to blood poisoning),  Mezerium (intolerable itching; chilliness with pruritus; worse in bed), Psorinum (itching disturbs sleep), Sulphur (suitable for psoriatic patients, itching worse scratching and washing)
Sadness and grief
Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem, but it is not a normal part of aging. It is often not recognized or treated.
Arsenicum iodatum (sadness and discontent set in after prolonged illness), Aurum metallicum (profound despondency, with increased blood pressure, with thorough disgust of life, and thoughts of suicide; talks of committing suicide), Ginkgo biloba Ø/1x (studies reveal that it helps in major depression), Ginseng Ø/1x (possess adaptogenic action i.e. it helps the body to adapt to stress), Iodium (anxiety from present situation leading to depression and suicidal thoughts), Stannum metallicum (sad and discouraged with dread of seeing people), Zincum metallicum (depression with aversion to do anything, lethargic and stupidness)
Senile heart
Cardiac weakness is increasingly common in elderly people. Ageing process in the heart leads to inability of the heart to maintain an output adequate to meet the metabolic demands of the body. Clinically, it is manifested as organ hypo-perfusion and inadequate tissue oxygen delivery.
Arnica Montana 1x/2x (cardiac dropsy with dyspnoea), Crataegus oxyacantha Ø/1x (cardiac weakness. Extreme dyspnoea and exhaustion), Convallaria majalis Ø/1x (increases the heart’s action and renders it more regular), Coffea cruda 1x (acts on violent irregular palpitations especially after sudden stress), Prunus spinosa 1x (indicated for tachycardia which is exacerbated with the slightest motion)
A common symptom in elderly, it general occurs due to ageing process in the whole body. It is important to differentiate the severity to find out if there is a major illness behind it and treat them properly.
Alumina (tendency to paretic muscular states, with lack of vital heat, or prematurely old, with debility), Ambra grisea (extreme nervous hypersensitiveness), Conium maculatum (trembling with numbness), Ginkgo biloba Ø/1x (increases the blood circulation to the periphery), Kalium carbonicum (with tearing pains), Mercurius (tremors all over the body from weakness with ebullitions; trembling from least exertion), Opium (twitching of limbs; numbness and jerks as if flexors were overacting), Phosphorus (suitable from tall slender persons), Plumbum metallicum (paralysis of single muscle with difficulty to lift anything), Zincum metallicum (lameness, weakness, trembling and twitching of various muscles)

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