Have you made resolutions for this year that you will work at and keep? And if you do have specific goals, does that mean you are a meticulous planner who knows what you’re going to do each day and what you need to accomplish these plans?
If so, you are in the minority. Most of us spend more time reacting to what’s happening around us than in preparation for a planned day, much less a year.
This holds true in just about everything we do, including our health. We go to the doctor when we get sick or hurt and we make changes in our lifestyles only after there is a problem. Now, why is that? Why don’t more people take a proactive approach and plan for good health?
A good health plan is key to living long and well. Steps to a healthy life include eating a balanced diet (getting daily recommended nutrition that includes calcium, vitamins and minerals), exercising regularly, limiting alcoholic beverages, quitting smoking and relieving stress.
Various screenings and tests are important to make sure we stay well and to detect diseases in their early stages. The basic exams for adults include a physical with height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes checks, bone density tests, breast examinations, mammograms, and prostate and colon cancer screenings. It is also important to have regular eye exams and to get your teeth cleaned and checked routinely.
Adults, just like children, need to keep their immunizations up to date. A single-dose pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for all adults age 65 years and older to prevent pneumonia caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. If you are 50 years old or older, have a chronic disease or are concerned about catching the flu, you should have an annual influenza vaccination. These are recommended for everyone but they are essential for this segment of the population.
Other immunizations adults should have include:
• Three tetanus and diphtheria shots are recommended along with a booster shot every 10 years.
• One dose of measles vaccine is recommended for those born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated. It is also recommended for women of childbearing age.
• Two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine are recommended for adults who work in kitchens and people who travel to countries where there are high levels of hepatitis A. Older adults who were not immunized against hepatitis B as infants or children should ask their health-care providers about receiving the hepatitis B vaccine.
• Chickenpox vaccine is recommended for adults who have not had chickenpox or the vaccine before.
• The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for college freshmen who live on campus.
Preventative medicine is important but being aware of your body and reacting promptly when certain symptoms occur can be critical. Symptoms that require immediate attention include:
• Sudden or developing problems with speech or sight
• Sudden or developing trouble with balance and coordination.
• Sudden numbness or weakness in face, arms or legs
• Severe pain or “pressure” in the chest or left arm
• Loss of consciousness or difficulty in breathing
• Profuse, unexplained and unchecked bleeding
Symptoms tell us when our bodies are in distress or when a health problem exists. The symptoms listed below indicate that it’s time to see your health-care provider soon.
• Symptoms that indicate stomach or intestinal problems: Bleeding from the rectum, vomiting up blood, blood or mucus in the stool (including diarrhea) or black stools, changes in bowel habits or not being able to control bowels, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn or acid reflux, pain or feeling of fullness in stomach and unusual abdominal swelling, bloating or general discomfort.
• Symptoms that indicate problems in the respiratory system: Coughing up blood, shortness of breath or wheezing, persistent cough that gets worse over time or repeated bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia.
• Symptoms that indicate skin problems: Changes in skin moles; moles that are no longer round or turn blacker; small lumps on skin that are smooth, shiny and waxy (red or reddish-brown); and painful, crusty, scaling or oozing skin lesions that don’t go away or heal.
• Symptoms that might indicate liver disease: Jaundice (skin and whites of eyes turn yellow) and pain in right upper quadrant of trunk.
• Symptoms that indicate muscle or bone joint (muscular-skeleton) disorders: Numbness, tingling (pins and needles sensation) or discomfort in hands, feet or limbs; pain, stiffness, swelling or redness in or around joints; and muscle pains and body aches that are persistent or come and go often.
• Symptoms indicative of bladder, prostate or kidney problems: Blood in urine, difficult or painful urination, frequent urination or loss of bladder control, feeling the urge to urinate when bladder is empty and discomfort in scrotum.
• Symptoms representative of questionable breast changes: Breast nipple discharge; unusual breast tenderness or pain; breast or nipple skin changes such as ridges, dimpling, pitting, swelling, redness, or scaling; lump or thickening in or near breast or in underarm area and tenderness.
• Symptoms that indicate problems in the reproductive system: Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods; itching, burning or irritation (including bumps, blisters or sores) on or near the genital area; pain or discomfort during sex; severe or painful bleeding with periods; severe pelvic pain; unusual vaginal discharge of any type or color, or with strong odor.
Make 2011 the year you take control of your body and health