Health and Wellness
Submitted by: Kimberly T Jackson, DO., family physician at the Dundee Family Health Center
Everyone wants to be healthy, but what does that mean? Health is defined as a state of physical and mental well-being and being free from disease. In most cases, it is much easier to talk about disease rather than health. But what does it take to become healthy? Sometimes it is as simple as knowing what you should be doing to stay healthy or what tests you should have to monitor your health. First, you should get your annual physical exams. It is during these times that a physician has the opportunity to assess what your regular body function is and make suggestions of adjustments to your diet and exercise regimen to maintain your health. Most people only see the doctor when something is wrong. It is important to be proactive and attempt to prevent disease rather than be reactive and want to fix it after-the-fact. To provide some insight into what you can do to be in your best health at any age, a discussion follows addressing:
Men should have annual physical exams. It is during this office visit that routine questions are asked regarding physical and mental health. In most cases, your doctor will assess body functions through physical examination.
During this examination, your doctor will also assess your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure should be no higher than 120/80. The stages of high blood pressure include pre-hypertension at 130-139 / 80-89, Stage 1 at 140-159 / 90-99, and Stage 2 at over 160/100. Most people have elevated blood pressure, and don’t even know it because they do not check it on a regular basis. High blood pressure is known as a “silent disease” because most people do not have symptoms when their blood pressure is high. Untreated high blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels in your eyes and kidneys and may cause a stroke.
Beginning at age 40, all men should have a digital rectal exam to assess the size, shape, and texture of the prostate gland. A test for the PSA (prostate specific antigen) should be performed to assess any problems with prostate function. At age 50, men should also be scheduled for a routine screening colonoscopy, and at age 70 a bone mineral density test should be performed to check for osteoporosis.
Women should have an annual physical exam, with a papanicolaou test (pap smear) starting at age 21 if they are not sexually active, or when sexual activity begins. This exam should also include an annual breast exam. The first mammogram will be used as a baseline and should be obtained between ages 35-40. Starting at age 41 a screening mammogram should be obtained every year. At age 50, a routine screening colonoscopy should be performed. Women age 65 and older should have bone density testing every two years to check for osteoporosis.
Vision screening is recommended for all children at least once before entering school, preferably between ages 3 and 4. Yearly dilated eye exams should be performed for everyone with decreased visual acuity. Using sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection and a hat with a visor is recommended to protect your eyes from sun exposure.
A dentist should be seen at least every 6 months for cleaning and an exam which may include x-rays. Everyone is advised to brush their teeth twice daily with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Some children may require a fluoride prescription to prevent cavities. Everyone is encouraged to use dental floss daily.
You should perform regular physical activity at least 30 minutes a day at least 3 days per week. Exercise provides numerous benefits including, enhancing general well being, self esteem, sexual satisfaction, and improving mental health. You should check with your doctor prior to starting any exercise program to make sure there are no restrictions. It is also good to have a goal prior to starting any exercise regimen regarding your body mass index (BMI). This figure gives us an idea of whether you are overweight, obese, or normal. A normal BMI is18.5 to 24.9, with 25-29.9 BMI being overweight, and >30 being obese.
Everyone should eat at least 3 well balanced meals per day. For those that have difficulty regulating their blood sugar 5-6 small meals may be recommended. Do not skip meals. Calories from fat and cholesterol should be limited. You should increase your dietary fiber intake by eating foods such as whole fruits, beans and whole grain breads. Drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water daily. All women should consume 1000-1500 mg/day of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D for prevention of osteoporosis. A woman who may become pregnant should take a multivitamin to be in the best health to support pregnancy.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Periodic self-examination of your skin can be performed at any age, and any suspicious lesions should be reported to your doctor. It is encouraged that sun exposure be avoided between the hours of 10AM and 3 PM. If you must be outside, please wear protective clothing and sunscreen that blocks UV A and B radiation.
Any type of sexual intercourse puts you at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Prevention of STIs include: abstinence, maintaining a monogamous relationship, and the use of a male latex condom during intercourse. You are also strongly encouraged to get regularly tested for these types of infections.
Drugs and Alcohol
The suggested safe limits for drinking are 2 drinks per day in men and 1 in women. One drink is defined as one 12 oz. beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits. Women who are pregnant or nursing are discouraged from drinking. The use of drugs should be avoided at all cost unless they are for medicinal use.
Hopefully, you will find some of this information very helpful in maintaining your optimal health. It is by no means an exhaustive listing of things that you can do to maintain health and prevent disease, but should be used as a starting point on the road to a healthy lifestyle at any age. At the very least, we encourage you to just go in and establish a relationship with a doctor so that someone is assessing your health.
If you currently do not have a physician we offer seven convenient locations, Board Certified Physicians, and a wide range of services for children ages two and over, adolescents, and adults at our Family Health Centers.
Our Family Health Centers are currently accepting new patients.
Family physicians provide complete and comprehensive care for the whole family and offer a wide range of services to children 2 and above, adolescents and adults.
Examples of services are:
- Annual physical exams
- Preventive medicine
- Minor surgery
- Routine gynecological services
(e.g. birth control, pap smears)
Physicians are also able to treat a wide variety of common problems:
- Childhood illnesses
- Injuries and accidents
- Sports injuries
- Dermatological problems
- Foot problems
- Medical problems of adults
- Joint and muscle problems
- Emotional problems