Thursday, 22 August 2013

10 Things You Should Know About Your Health

When asked about the most important or most valuable things in life, health is often at the top of everyone’s list. Without your health, you do not have the ability to do, or have, much else. Being healthy means different things to everybody, and health status is strongly linked to happiness. But how much do you really know about your health- the things that affect your longevity? Here’s a list of ten things you should know about your health – as a bare minimum!

1.   Keep your vaccinations up to date

Vaccinations are an amazing invention that we take for granted in the 21st century. We can now avoid many diseases such has whooping cough, influenza, tetanus, and diphtheria, simply by having vaccination. Different vaccinations are available for different age groups, so check with your doctor whether you are up to date with your vaccinations.

2.       Diet and Exercise

Have you ever had a health professional review your diet and exercise regimen? Has a professional ever provided you with any recommendations? Have you tried to lose weight unsuccessfully? Your diet and exercise regimen has significant influence on your health and well-being, yet most people probably never have any professional input as to whether they are on the right track, or need to make some changes to achieve their goals.

3.       Undertake preventative screening

There is an array of preventative health screening programs available that are highly effective at detecting diseases early on. The sooner a problem is identified, the better the prognosis as early interventions can be made.  Pap smears, mammograms, bowel screening, prostate checks, mole checks and bone density tests are just some of the many available tests that can detect problems in the initial stages.

4.        Know your blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for a number of conditions, including heart attack and stroke. People who have high blood pressure are often unaware that there is any problem, as symptoms are only usually experienced at dangerously high blood pressure levels. Your doctor or local pharmacy can perform a blood pressure check, and identify whether further follow up is needed.

5.       Know your cholesterol and sugar levels

A simple blood test can determine your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. High cholesterol is a “silent” disease that causes narrowing and blockage of the blood vessels ; however there are no noticeable symptoms.  The first symptom experienced  could even be  a  heart attack or a stroke. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer regulate blood sugar levels effectively. It often has a gradual onset, with early symptoms being very mild. Both conditions are associated with a range of potential complications. However there are effective treatments available and these conditions can be well managed, especially with early intervention.

6.       Understand  your medications

Medications are routinely involved in the management of diseases and ailments. But how much do you really know about your medications? Make sure you know what each of your medicines is actually for, be able to identify the difference between the drug name and the brand name; and ensure you know how to take your medication correctly. If you are unsure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

7.       Check your cigarette and alcohol use

No one needs to tell you that smoking is bad for you; this has been widely known for decades. Smoking damages every part of the body, and the sooner you kick the habit the easier it is for the body to reverse some of the damage that has been done. Alcoholin moderation does not appear to increase the risk of disease or injury for most people.  Moderation is defined as “on average no more than 2 standard drinks a day”, and this doesn’t mean you can save up your daily drink quota and binge on the weekend!

8.       Dental health check

No one likes going to the dentist, as it hurts the mouth and the wallet! But like most aspects of health, preventing dental issues is better having to treat them. Try to go at least once a year for a routine check-up and a good clean. 

9.       Eye health

We take our eyes for granted, if they are working fine, we don’t worry too much about them.  For people over 40, regular eye testing at least every two years is recommended to check for glaucoma, a condition where the pressure behind the eyeball becomes elevated and can lead to significant vision loss. If detected early on, treatment is available to slow the progression of this disease.

10.   Give yourself a mental health check

Often doctors won’t routinely ask about mood, stress and anxiety levels. If you are feeling “not quite right” emotionally, talk to your doctor about how you are feeling or visit a counsellor or psychologist for further help.

Do you know all of this information about your health? No? Well you are definitely not alone. It’s easy to put off looking after your health when your life has other demands and priorities. Yet if your health is important to you, do something about it!  Make sure you know how healthy you really are and what else you could be doing to improve or maintain your health and well-being.

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