Take Care of Your Health with Medical Screenings
May 18, 2017
by Darra McMullen, GHWCC and Women’s Health Network writer/researcher
May’s health topic is “Women’s Health”. Women’s health encompasses such a vast array of subjects that it would be impossible to cover all of them, even briefly, in one medium length web article; however, it is possible to do two things in the time and space available.
Firstly, this writer would like to remind all ladies to form a personal health plan, wherein you outline a health check-up schedule that is doable for your lifestyle and health needs. To assist with the list of health categories for inclusion in your plan, we’re re-publishing an article from May of last year that covers much of what you’ll need to consider for testing purposes. If you missed the article last year, your second chance to catch it begins below in just a moment.
Secondly, I would like to let you know about some important health tips that have been in the news lately which are particularly helpful for women. Due to the length of both the “overview” section below and the “health tips” portion of the story, this writer has decided to break the one long story into two parts. Below, you’ll find the health check-up “overview” (re-published from last year). Soon, look for the “health tips” portion of this article – due out later this month.
“Overview” section begins below:
Every year, during the month of May, we at the GHWCC take special note of the importance of women’s health because National Women’s Health Week is always observed in May, creating the perfect time to remind us all to make a personal health plan and implement it into our everyday lives.
At various times during this month, most of us probably read or heard, in a piecemeal fashion, about various health issues effecting women, but we may not have sat down and tried to coalesce our tidbits of information into a cohesive body of information from which to make a plan of action.
Because we at the GHWCC encourage all women to care for their whole selves, the information that follows is intended as a quick checklist of overall health basics to help us focus our attentions on improving overall health – including in areas that we may often gloss over or ignore completely.
To begin, we’ll start with the more commonly discussed issues surrounding women’s health, but we’ll move quickly to areas frequently overlooked.
• “Know your numbers” – weight, height, blood pressure, cholesterol (LDL, HDL, triglycerides, overall total cholesterol), blood glucose, A1C.
These figures can give you important clues to your overall risk for major killer diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, or other cardiovascular problems, as well as clues to the presence of other conditions, such as osteoporosis.
• Make sure your female parts are examined and screened for disease. Breasts, ovaries, uteruses, and vaginas have on-going issues and needs throughout life, even if child bearing is long over. Younger women who still have child bearing in the picture have even greater need for being sure their female parts are healthy. Whatever your age and stage of life, make sure you’ve been screened recently for cancer and other health problems. Talk with your doctor about a screening regimen that’s right for you and your personal needs.
• Vision and hearing are precious gifts too often sent to the back burner of health screenings. Changes in either vision or hearing can signify a disease of the eye or ear that can be serious and lead to a loss of function in either body part. Worse yet, changes in vision or hearing can sometimes indicate the presence of a brain tumor or stroke.
Getting vision and hearing tested regularly is a very important step to better health. This step can save your senses or your life.
• If you’ve experienced muscle pain, other soft tissue pain, or bone symptoms lasting for more than a few days, you should be examined by a doctor. Too often, people tend to ignore, or treat with over-the-counter medicine, pain in the arms, legs, and back. Pain in these areas is often trivialized as an unimportant annoyance instead of taken as a cry for help from an injured or diseased body that needs medical attention. Unrelenting body pain resulting from muscles or other soft tissues can be symptomatic of serious problems, as can persistent bone pain, and should be addressed at once. Arm, leg, or back pain can be a sign of serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, herniated spinal discs, tendonitis, arthritis, blood clots, and a host of other medical concerns.
Never ignore (or self-treat) long lasting arm, leg, or back pain. Have an expert evaluate the situation to determine cause. Even less severe problems need proper treatment to avoid sidelining the patient from day-to-day tasks.
• Every person should think critically about his/her digestive system. If nagging heartburn, constipation, nausea, gas, bloating, or loose stools have been troublesome lately, one should see a doctor soon. Digestive problems can be symptoms of things as simple as chronic stress or as complicated as cancer. Whether the condition is simple, difficult, or “in-between” to treat, the sooner the problem is addressed, the greater the chance for a successful recovery.
Our digestive systems are so critically important to overall health because the digestive system controls intake of crucial nutrients and elimination of toxic wastes. We must be very proactive about taking care of our digestion.
• One of the top health areas that most people often delay addressing (or forego completely) is dental work. Dental issues generally are pricey, inconvenient, and sometimes painful, and as such, people tend to put off obtaining much needed treatment for their teeth, gums, and jaws. Unfortunately, delaying or never getting treatment for dental problems can make issues more severe. Consequences are not limited just to the mouth and jaw areas. Bacteria from gum disease and decay in teeth or jawbones can make their way to the blood stream, heart, and kidneys, potentially causing serious harm.
As difficult as it is to get dental treatments, the benefits outweigh the negatives in almost all situations,
• Keep a check on your kidney function. Simple blood tests and urine specimen analyses can tell a lot about kidney health. Kidney disease can be a slow, silent killer with few symptoms. Kidney disease can be caused by many things, including unresolved urinary tract infections that spread to the kidneys, alcohol abuse, high blood pressure, family history of certain kidney ailments, excess salt intake, diabetes, illicit drug use, injury to the kidney area, and poor fluid intake, among other possible causes.
Have your kidney function checked out with common blood/urine tests at least yearly when checking on your other “numbers”, like cholesterol and blood glucose. More frequent testing may be needed if you have a kidney ailment; check with your doctor.
• Of all the health check-ups to remember, one of the most commonly ignored or marginalized areas is that of mental health. With our mental states controlling our behaviors (for better or worse), keeping a close eye on our emotions is imperative to success in overall health or in any other aspect of life. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behavior, or various addictions are common mental health woes. Be honest with yourself about any mental health symptoms. Don’t be afraid to face the truth and seek treatment if needed. There are a variety of solutions to mental health issues. Look for help with an open mind and a determined attitude to prevail. Your mental (and physical) health is at stake.
• Finally, don’t try to do a “whole body check-up” all in one month; you’ll be overwhelmed with appointments, concerns, and probably expenses. Rather, sit down with a sheet of paper and list, in order, a game plan for obtaining needed medical tests. Start at the top of the page with the most needed (or overdue) medical tests and gradually work your way down the page to the items of least pressing need. Then look for spaces in your itinerary over the next several months to squeeze in as many of these “check-ups” as possible. With careful planning and relentless dedication to taking charge of your health, great improvements can be made. Let’s go forth and conquer!