Merck Manual

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Some Disorders That Affect Mainly Older People

Some Disorders That Affect Mainly Older People

Disorder

Description

Memory and other mental functions are progressively lost.

The wall of the aorta bulges. If untreated, an aneurysm can rupture and lead to death.

Atrophic urethritis and vaginitis

Tissues in the urethra thin, sometimes causing burning during urination. Tissues in the vagina thin, sometimes causing pain during intercourse.

The prostate gland enlarges, blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder.

The lens of the eye clouds, impairing vision.

The body does not respond to the insulin it produces. This disorder may begin during middle age. Treatment with insulin may not be required.

The optic nerve is damaged because pressure in part of the eye is elevated. Vision is progressively reduced, and blindness can result. Glaucoma usually begins during middle age.

The cartilage that lines the joints degenerates, causing pain. Osteoarthritis usually begins during middle age.

Bones become less dense and more fragile. As a result, fractures are more likely.

Nerve cells in the brain degenerate slowly and progressively, causing tremor, stiff (rigid) muscles, and difficulty moving and maintaining balance.

The skin breaks down because prolonged pressure reduces blood flow to the affected area.

Cancer develops in the prostate gland and eventually interferes with the flow of urine.

The chickenpox virus from an earlier infection is reactivated, causing blisters and sometimes long-lasting, excruciating pain.

A blood vessel in the brain is blocked or ruptures. A stroke causes symptoms such as weakness or loss of sensation on one side of the body, problems with vision in one eye, difficulty speaking or understanding, loss of balance or coordination, or sudden severe headache.

The flow of urine cannot be controlled, resulting in leakage.