As we prepare to leave the old year behind and greet the New Year, I would like to propose the following health-related resolutions:
• If you smoke — quit.
• If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
• Develop a routine exercise program and stick with it.
• Improve your diet — increase fruits and vegetables and decrease fats and carbohydrates.
• Buckle up every time you enter your car.
• Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving. It’s not only very dangerous, but also now illegal.
• Get regular dental checkups and eye exams.
• If you are overweight, try to lose weight. If you can’t, at least remain physically fit.
• Use sunscreen when outside during the sunny months.
• Routinely examine your skin for any unusual changes.
• Keep your immunizations up to date — all the usual vaccinations that babies and children receive, as well as a diphtheria-tetanus booster every 10 years for adults and a yearly influenza vaccine.
• Have your blood pressure checked at every health care visit.
• Have a pap test for women beginning at age 20, continuing per doctor’s recommendation.
• Have a cholesterol level test starting at age 20.
• Have a clinical breast exam and mammogram for women beginning at age 40 per doctor’s recommendation.
• Have a blood sugar test starting at age 45.
• Have a colon screening (colonoscopy) beginning at age 50.
• Have a prostate exam for men starting at age 50.
• Do not climb ladders. (This is personal experience speaking.)
• See your doctor sooner rather than later if you have a strong family history of any significant medical problems, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
• Avoid stress. Relax and honestly try to enjoy your life, whatever your circumstances.
After having practiced medicine for more than 37 years, I can assure you that following the above resolutions will very likely add years of healthy living to your life.
This month will mark the beginning of three years of writing this column. Reader feedback has been beyond expectations, for which I am very grateful. Please contact me if you have requests for medical topics that are important to you or that might have a broad reader appeal.
Happy healthy holidays!