Avoiding health issues that seem minor, like allergies or headaches, can be easy. But did you know that those minor issues could be a sign of something bigger? Keeping up with your health can be intimidating. But as you go through life, it becomes more and more necessary to know about your health.
Understanding your health can help you improve it and put your mind at ease. Here are five important areas of your health to begin checking to see where you stand.
Know Your Sexual Health
Many individuals put off testing for sexually transmitted infections for a myriad of reasons. Maybe it’s the inconvenience of going to an in-person appointment or feelings of embarrassment. Regardless of the cause, people often avoid assessing their sexual health.
Fortunately, testing for and treating STIs is easier than ever before. In fact, you can test for many common infections from the comfort of your own home. Once you collect your samples, you just return them to the lab and wait for results (usually within days of receipt). The sooner you know your results, the sooner you can take action to prevent infection or talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Similarly, if you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, you can now have genital herpes treatment sent directly to your home, where you can take care of your sexual health conveniently. These treatments are also packaged discreetly, so you can treat yourself and maintain your privacy.
While discreet testing and treatment are all well and good, make sure you speak to your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor won’t judge your sexual choices; they simply want to make sure your health is the best it can be.
Know Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is usually symptomless, but its effects can be detrimental. From major problems like kidney damage to emergencies such as a stroke, high blood pressure shouldn’t be overlooked.
Fortunately, you can start measuring your blood pressure at home. You can do this with the help of a smartwatch or monitoring cuff, whichever device you have access to.
Before you begin your routine of measuring, however, there are a few things you should know. When you’re taking your blood pressure reading, always use the same arm for consistent results. You should also avoid doing so after consuming caffeine or alcohol, exercising, or smoking. These activities can increase your heart rate and provide an inaccurate reading.
A normal blood pressure rate for adults is less than 120/80. If your rate measures above this, it’s time to take action. Cutting out smoking, reducing stress levels, or losing weight are ways you can reduce your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and potential medications. The journey of lowering blood pressure looks different for everyone, but it’s important to take it seriously for a healthier future.
Know Your Deficiencies
There’s a reason your parents always told you to eat your vegetables. Having a well-balanced diet, complete with nutrient-rich foods, is an essential part of healthy living. If your body is lacking in vitamins and minerals, you may experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
Most essential vitamins and minerals can be consumed in our daily diet. However, many Americans’ diets are low in essential nutrients, causing them to develop deficiencies. Some common signs of vitamin deficiencies are brittle hair and nails, mouth ulcers, and dandruff.
If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor to determine whether you’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency. Simple diet changes like swapping kale for iceberg lettuce can make a huge difference in how you feel. If you can’t get the recommended amounts in your diet, supplements may be the right option for you.
Know Your Moles
Our bodies are always changing, and it’s crucial for you to know how. The easiest way to stay in tune with your body is through performing regular self-examinations.
Keep track of your moles in particular, as skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. Normal moles are typically the same color (tan, brown, or black), and they’re usually approximately the size of a pencil eraser. New moles can form until your 40s, they can change throughout your lifetime, and they may even disappear.
The easiest way to determine whether your moles have the potential to be cancerous is to remember your ABCs:
- Asymmetrical: Is your mole asymmetrical in shape — that is, does it look like two different halves?
- Borders: Does your mole have an irregular, notched border?
- Color: What color is your mole? Is it changing, or is the color uneven?
- Diameter: Is your mole growing in diameter to be larger than the size of a pencil eraser?
- Evolution: Do you have a mole that’s changing? It may develop new symptoms such as itching or bleeding.
If you notice any changes to your moles, talk to your doctor. They will perform an exam and decide what steps you should take next.
Know Your Breasts
During your self-examination, it’s equally important to examine your breasts, regardless of your gender. These examinations are one of the easiest ways to catch breast cancer early on, which affects both men and women. These tests should become a routine by the time you’re in your 20s.
Breast self-exams are easy and only take a few minutes to complete. When you’re doing these exams, here are some questions to consider:
- Are your breasts their usual size, shape, and color?
- Is the skin around them dimpling or puckering?
- Have your nipples changed directions or become inverted?
- Are you experiencing redness or soreness around your breasts?
- Is there any fluid coming out of one or both nipples?
If you do find a lump in your breast, don’t panic. Lumps can form for a number of reasons, so consult your doctor to evaluate the lump. They may need to do a biopsy to determine whether it’s malignant or benign.
Knowing your body is the key to living a healthy and confident life. Our bodies are always telling us what they need. It’s our job to listen.