HEALTH SELF-CHECKS FOR WELLNESS MAINTENANCE

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Healthcare Network Southwest Florida

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Posted on

Aug 29, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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Like keeping an automobile fine-tuned, we have a role in our own health maintenance with regular health self-checks. Being aware of our bodies helps us know what changes may need to be evaluated by a doctor.

Early detection of many health changes results in better long-term outcomes. Also, body changes can signal treatable illnesses like cancer, heart problems and other issues.

To know what to look for, learn of any risk factors or family history of health conditions. Knowing your risks will also help your doctor suggest any lifestyle changes that could help lessen these risks.

HEALTH SELF-CHECKS FOR WELLNESS: SETTING THE BASELINE

To get into a routine of health self-checks and to recognize problems, begin them when you are feeling healthy. This will let you establish what is normal for you.

  • Take your temperature. Note, temperatures outside of your normal range often indicate illness.
  • Check your heart rate. Your resting heart rate in the morning gives you an indication of general wellness and depends on your age and fitness. Checking every morning for a week can help determine your usual rate. Then, noticing a change of 10 beats per minute or more may be worth discussing with your doctor. A persistent rate above 100 beats per minute may indicate a serious health issue.
  • Blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk for strokes, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
  • Many blood and swab tests can be done at home and can indicate cholesterol levels, thyroid issues, urinary tract infections and strep throat. Remember, it is important that adverse results be interpreted by a doctor.
  • Blood sugar levels can be tested with home blood glucose tests. Blood sugar levels are important because diabetes can lead to complications such as heart, kidney and dental disease, stroke and blindness.

HEALTH SELF-CHECKS FOR ABNORMALITIES

After you have established your baselines, set up regular health self-checks for what might not be normal. As a result, finding any abnormalities early can lead to better treatment outcomes.

  • Testicular and breast checks are important to discover lumps or swelling that may indicate cancer.
  • Waist fat measurements. Too much fat around your waist can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Measure your waist at the level of your belly button. If your waist is 37 inches or more for men and 31.4 inches or more for women, you may be at risk, and should talk to your doctor about weight management.
  • Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer you can screen for yourself. Look for new growths or moles that have changed, bleed, itch, burn or crust over. If you are fair skinned, have family history or spend a lot of time in the sun, you may also want to get checked annually by a dermatologist.
  • Check your skin, hair and nails, as subtle changes can suggest things happening internally, nutritional imbalances or more serious issues such as a thyroid problem. Excessively dry skin, rough scaly patches or redness could be eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, but they can also offer clues about how your digestion and detox systems are functioning. Your doctor can determine the underlying causes of changes in skin, hair and nails and recommend treatments.

TAKE YOUR FINDINGS TO YOUR DOCTOR

It is beneficial to keep an eye on your own health. Also, it is also important to have a good relationship with a primary care provider. Your doctor will also consider your risk factors and maintain a complete picture of your overall health. Health self-checks help you catch potential health problems early. Evaluation by a doctor makes health self-checks most effective.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Corin DeChirico, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs, runs the clinical programs for Healthcare Network after more than 25 years as a healthcare clinician, leader and physician executive. For information on Healthcare Network, visit healthcareswfl.org or call 239.658.3000.

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What to Know About HRT Patches and Menopause

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Fight Signs of Premature Aging with These 10 Skin-Care Ingredients

Determined to delay premature aging? It will take a willingness to scan labels and identify key ingredients that aid in the battle for youthful skin. No one can avoid wrinkles indefinitely, but most dont want to see them appear too soon or too ferociously. The endless array of products on the shelves (or populating online stores) dont make the job any easier. Which ones have ingredients proven to be effective, and which are just pumped full of fillers?The most commonly known anti-aging ingredients are retinol and sunscreen, but there are more you should consider as you search product labels for optimal skin-care products. Here are 10 skin-care ingredients to add to your arsenal.1. B Vitamins Promote Healthy Skin, Hair, and NailsVitamin B converts food into energy, fueling many bodily functions, including those that maintain skin, hair, and nail health. Youll find many forms of B12 in skin-care products because its so crucial to skin health. 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Copper benefits your skin by binding proteins together, forming collagen, and supporting your skin. Because of all this, copper prevents sagging and fills wrinkles. This amazing element is good for far more than furnishing a penny. It even renews damaged collagen, improving the look of scars and sun-damaged skin. Copper-infused pillow cases can decrease crows feet lines after a month or two of sleeping on one. Youll find copper ideal for skin-care because its not irritating, making it an option if you have sensitive skin and arent able to use retinol products.4. Green Tea Revitalizes SkinGreen tea is proven to benefit your health from the inside out, whether you drink or use it in skin-care products. The plant is packed with nutrients like polyphenols (antioxidants) that boost skin health. And its stimulants can energize your skin as much as it does your brain when applied topically. You can use green tea to alleviate dark circles below your eyes, and the effects are even more profound when combined with caffeine in an eye cream. Overall, green tea benefits your skin through preventing and repairing oxidation damage, which breaks down skin over time. You can find green tea and its antioxidant benefits in creams and serums.5. Peptides Stimulate collagen ProductionAs more clinical research comes to light, peptides are becoming a more popular ingredient in anti-aging skin-care products. But what are peptides? Recall that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and peptides are short chains of amino acids. Topical peptide creams are often made to stimulate collagen production and thereby reduce wrinkles. But be careful when purchasing peptide creams, because not all of them contain enough peptides or the right forms. Be sure to choose a product that has been clinically tested.6. Retinols Speed Up Cell TurnoverRetinols are derived from vitamin A and essentially speed up the life cycle of your skin cells. This means that cells are dying more quickly and replaced by new cells. The result is younger looking skin. It plumps wrinkles and fine lines but also minimizes discoloration and smooths your skins texture. Its the most widely tested and proven topical ingredient for anti-aging. Retinol takes weeks or months to be effective, so patience is a must if you want to reap its wrinkle-fighting benefits. But youll also find a couple negatives when using retinoids: they can be drying and increase sun sensitivity. So be sure to use these products moderately and apply sunscreen to protect your skin.7. Vitamin E Reverses Damage and Rejuvenates SkinSkin damage causes fine lines and wrinkles. So preventing damage is a great way to keep your skin healthy. Vitamin E is your number one defense for skin protection. It fights against environmental factors like sun exposure by neutralizing the free radicals that damage your skin. Like vitamin A, its an antioxidant thats also found in salves to heal scars, burns, cuts, and surgery sites. If you want the biggest impact, apply both vitamin E and C topically to preserve and build collagen.8. SPF Prevents Cancer and Improves Skin AppearanceFor skin cancer prevention, doctors recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30. But SPF also improves the look of your skin when used alone. One study indicates that one year of applying sunscreen daily yielded improvements in skin tone, texture, and wrinkles. You can purchase moisturizers with built in SPF or apply it separately.9. Vitamin C Neutralizes Damage and Lightens Dark SpotsVitamin C renders free radicals ineffective and increases the protective benefits of sunscreen. Some dermatologists recommend applying a thin layer of vitamin C serum under their sunscreen as their patients get ready for the day. 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Hydroxy acids like glycolic acid are known for their super exfoliating powers and stimulate collagen production. These properties help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Hydroxy acids are available in varying strengths in serums, peels, and creams. A dermatologist can help you decide which type of product is best for you and your skin type.Other Tips for Healthier SkinIts About More Than Just Your FaceRemember that your hands and neck are also highly exposed areas and are prone to premature aging. So be sure to show some love, not only to your face but also to your these areas. Your neck and hands get about as much sun exposure as your face, and the skin in these areas are thinner and more delicate. Apply the same moisturizer and SPF protection to your neck and hands to prevent signs of premature aging in these places.Your Lifestyle MattersYour general lifestyle highly impacts your skin. 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