Prioritize your health in 2024
It’s a new year and once again time for new resolutions. Well, oftentimes it’s old resolutions being repeated. The start of a new year is always a great time to reflect on our health and overall well-being and the steps we would like to take to make the most of the one body we get to have.
Most often New Year’s resolutions revolve around weight loss with many promises to improve our eating habits and exercise more. These goals are not only admirable but truly desirable for improving health.
I’d like to encourage you to broaden your health aspirations and add these 10 health checks for 2024.
Get a sleep study
Sleep is truly the foundation for everything. If we’re not sleeping well our body does not rejuvenate to improve memory, heal itself, or function adequately. If you are aware of loud snoring, restless sleeping, feeling tired when you wake up, or have medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or atrial fibrillation, then see a sleep specialist for evaluation and a sleep study.
Many times, a sleep study can be done in the comfort of your own home with fairly accurate results. The best news of all is that treating sleep disorders leads to not only more energy to function day-to-day but also decreases and even can reverse the severity of many medical conditions.
Get a hearing test
Maybe this holiday season, being around family or in larger gatherings, you realized how often you were missing the punch line or needing to have things repeated. Hearing loss, unfortunately, is not as innocent as it may seem.
When we are not hearing, our brains are not being as stimulated, and neuronal pathways over time are lost, increasing our risk for memory loss and dementia. On a day-to-day basis, hearing loss leads to safety issues in our environment and social isolation. In short, having great hearing keeps both our brains and our social life more fully engaged.
Get your blood pressure checked
Yes, it’s true: High blood pressure causes more issues of heart attacks and strokes than high cholesterol! Be sure to get your blood pressure checked various times during the day, and this can be done at no charge at many local pharmacies.
This is worth journaling with your blood pressure ideally below 140 / 80 anytime that it is checked. If it’s elevated, please seek further medical evaluation and treatment.
Get a hemoglobin A1C level
It is amazing how often in the United States of America, people with diabetes are not aware of their condition. While blood glucose tells you what your blood sugars are currently, the hemoglobin A1C is a more long-term reflection of the average of your blood sugars. Diabetes, especially when untreated, adversely impacts blood vessels, vision, body mass index, and overall health.
Get your PSA checked
Prostate cancer is treatable and curable when caught early. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a blood test done via a simple blood draw and can save a life. If it’s elevated, please follow up with a urologist for a prostate check and biopsy.
Get a colonoscopy
Colon cancer is unfortunately on the rise. Colonoscopy is now indicated for starting screening at age 45. If a family member had colon cancer, then you would ideally do your first screening 10 years before the age at which they were diagnosed.
For example, if your family member had colon cancer at age 50, then you would need to do your screening starting at age 40. While no one particularly enjoys the prep before the colonoscopy, think of it as a good cleanse and the start of weight loss and better eating habits.
Get your cholesterol checked
We all know that high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, but it also increases our risk for strokes and puts many of our organs at risk for decreased function by narrowing the associated blood vessels. Dietary changes, exercise, and improved sleep are all a part of lowering your cholesterol level.
Get your Vitamin D level checked
Living in Minnesota, our sun exposure, both duration and intensity, is reduced and therefore increases our risk for low vitamin D levels. A low vitamin D, in particular, can cause one to be tired. Vitamin D is important in the proper functioning of most of the cells in our bodies. Vitamin D supplements are available over the counter.
Get a CA-125 level test
This is important if you have a family history of colon, ovarian or uterine cancers. Like the PSA, this blood marker, when elevated, should at least trigger you to get a repeat level. Based on your symptoms and personal and family history, this may lead to additional testing to detect some of these soft tissue cancers early.
A smile is not only refreshing for you to relax the muscles, decrease your cortisol or stress hormone level, and improve your serotonin feel-good levels, but it also can have the same effect on others. Think of it as your no-cost random act of kindness!
So make 2024 different. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor, or establish a relationship with a primary care doctor and get started on your better health journey.
Cheers to better health in 2024!
Dr. Inell Rosario is a board-certified ENT and sleep physician practicing at Andros ENT & Sleep Center in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. She has many times been recognized as a Top Doctor and Best Doctor in various Minnesota magazines and can be reached at email@example.com or 651-888-7800.