A to Z of Healthy Living
Avoiding illness and maintaining good health may seem complicated, expensive and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be so. Some basic, practical steps can make a difference in your family’s health.
Automobile accidents claim thousands of lives and cause pain and disability from injuries. Protect yourself by wearing your seat belt regularly. Stop your vehicle before using a cell phone. Always fasten children into age appropriate restraint seats.
Brittle bones fracture easily. Protect yours by getting adequate calcium and vitamin D.
Everyone needs physical exercise every day. Most experts now recommend thirty minutes of moderately intense activity such as brisk walking daily.
Know your family medical history, especially your parents, grandparents and siblings. Some diseases like heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease tend to run in families.
Keep your teeth and gums (Gingiva) healthy with regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits.
Heart disease causes more deaths than any other disease. Ask your doctor if you have high risk and what you can do about it.
Hypertension-high blood pressure-contributes to heart attacks and can be controlled with diet, exercise and medications.
Immunizations prevent Influenza and other infections- hepatitis, tetanus, measles, polio, meningitis, and others. Immunizations are safe and effective.
Apply ice promptly to injured joints then after three days use heat. Heat also soothes the pain of joints affected by overuse and arthritis.
Keep your kidneys healthy by controlling blood pressure (hypertension) and blood sugar (diabetes).
Know your lipid levels- cholesterol and triglycerides. High levels indicate a greater risk of heart attacks. Dietary changes can lower the bad cholesterol-LDL- and exercise helps raise good cholesterol-HDL.
Women should have a mammogram every one to two years starting at age 40. Women at high risk due to a family history of breast cancer may need them earlier.
Exposure to loud noise is a common and irreversible cause of hearing loss. Household equipment like vacuums, washing machines and stereos produce enough decibels of sound to be harmful.
Use unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil for cooking instead of saturated fats like lard and butter. These are less likely to cause blockage in arteries and may actually decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Visit your PCP (Primary Care Physician) for a periodic health exam. Women need pap smears to detect cervical cancer. The doctor may recommend a PSA test for prostate cancer detection in men.
Quit smoking with help from your doctor and smoking cessation programs. Smoking and other forms of tobacco use contribute to heart attacks, chronic lung disease and several cancers.
Fatigue, tension and burnout can result from too little rest, relaxation, and recreation. Learn techniques to relieve the stress of work and family responsibilities.
Symptoms of depression include sadness, sluggishness, sleep disturbance, somatic (physical) pain, change in size (weight gain or loss), less interest in sex and suicidal thoughts. Suicide causes many deaths in adolescents and young adults, even elderly persons. Seek help if you have these symptoms persistently.
Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and storms can be deadly. Be prepared to seek appropriate shelter or evacuate if necessary when weather predictions warrant.
Exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun provides vitamin D for strong bones. But too much is toxic to the skin, causing wrinkling, pigment changes and skin cancer.
Vegetables and fruits provide the best source of vitamins. Green leafy vegetables like spinach may protect against vision loss due to macular degeneration.
Watch your weight. Excess weight causes many chronic health problems-diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, sleep apnea, and infertility. Successful weight loss programs combine modification of eating behavior with regular physical exercise. In extreme cases, overweight people may benefit from medications and surgery.
Cold, dry weather causes xerosis, or dry skin. Prevention involves less frequent bathing in cooler water with mild cleanser, and liberal use of emollients.
Yawning due to daytime drowsiness may indicate inadequate sleep at night. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
Deficiencies of zinc and other minerals-iron, iodine, copper, magnesium- can cause anemia, slow metabolism and immune dysfunction. While supplements may be necessary, usually a varied diet will provide adequate amounts.
With these measures, you can prevent or delay the need for complex medical procedures. Rather than waiting until illness strikes, you can prevent sickness by observing healthy habits and attitudes.
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"A to Z of Healthy Living"
Dr. Aletha Oglesby practices family medicine at the Utica Park Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has an interest in international health issues and has traveled overseas on numerous humanitarian medical trips....