As medicine, science, and our way of living all improve, human lifespan continues to grow longer and longer. New procedures and medications are emerging all the time so that a great deal of diseases and health conditions are getting easier to treat. However, it’s just as important to invest some time and effort into nurturing our health. Plenty of acute and chronic problems are actually preventable, or at least curable if caught early on. Here are a few fairly common health problems that you can avoid altogether if you take a proactive approach.
Keep diabetes at bay
While there are genetic reasons involved in developing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, they are not the only factor at play. Take identical twins as an example – very often, only one twin will actually develop the disease. The biggest lifestyle risk involved with this illness is certainly your diet. Even though we live in a historically unique position where we are able to buy a great variety of fresh foods, a lot of us still eat a diet relying too much on processed foods, fats and sugars. Glucose testing is a fast and simple way to check your blood sugar levels. Having elevated blood glucose does not necessarily mean you have diabetes, but it is a red flag, and it can help you spot the problem early so that you can address it before developing a full-blown illness.
Vaccinate against infectious diseases
We are lucky to be living at a time when we can prevent a lot of infectious diseases that used to kill millions of people worldwide. Unfortunately, due to controversy in the recent years, some of these illnesses, like measles and mumps have been on the rise both in Australia and the rest of the world. Following a doctor-recommended vaccination calendar will prevent you or your children from contracting illnesses that can have very serious consequences. Vaccination is important for the community too: the collective immunity helps keep the immunocompromised population safe – the sick, elderly, and children too young to be vaccinated.
Keep your vision intact
An overwhelming number of eye conditions is preventable or treatable if diagnosed early enough. It is estimated that almost half a million Australians today live with a vision impairment or blindness. Around 90% of those cases are preventable or treatable. Just five diseases account for most of these cases: uncorrected refractive error, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. While there is often a hereditary factor in vision issues, and diabetes is also emerging as a huge risk factor, many conditions can be avoided or corrected after a non-invasive eye test. Annual eye tests and wearing contact lenses or prescription glasses could help you keep your vision in perfect condition well into your old age.
Avoid respiratory diseases
Of all cancer cases per year in Australia, lung cancer is the one that is most commonly fatal. Data shows that, while it is possible for a non-smoker to get lung cancer, an overwhelming majority of cases is smoking-related. Of course, the best possible prevention is to never take up smoking in the first place. However, if you already smoke regularly, quitting will greatly improve your chances of never getting lung cancer in the future.
Be kind to your heart
The Public Health Agency of Canada claims that most Canadians have at least one risk factor for a major chronic disease that they can eliminate. That means that it is within their grasp to change their chances of getting cancer, diabetes, chronic heart disease or a chronic respiratory illness. The first step to minimize your chances of developing chronic heart disease is to give up smoking and alcohol. Eating wholesome foods and controlling your sodium intake will help you achieve a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, thus minimizing the strain on your heart. Finally, try to keep as physically active as possible. The current recommendations say that you should engage in at least half an hour of moderate physical activity five times a week. If your current fitness level is very low, start small, and build up to this goal as your body adapts.
Practice safe sex
While sexually transmitted illnesses are largely treatable, and even HIV has become a chronic disease that can, in most cases, be kept under control if diagnosed early, they can still have serious consequences. Practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly at your local sexual health clinic will protect both you and your partners from infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. If you already have an STI, a timely diagnosis will make treatment faster and easier.
With many health issues, there is often a direct correlation with the patient’s lifestyle. Some illnesses might be unavoidable, but preventative measures can help you maintain your health and vitality well into old age.