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Prevention, reaction keys to staying healthy
Health advice
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Are you a meticulous planner, so that you know what you’re going to do each day and where everything can be found to accomplish these plans? If so, you are in the minority. Most of us spend more time reacting to what’s happening around us than in preparation for a planned lifestyle.
This holds true in just about everything we do, including our health. We go to the doctor when we get sick or hurt and we make changes in our lifestyle only after there is a problem. Now, why is that so? Why don’t more people take a proactive approach and plan for “good health?”
A good health plan is key to living long and well. Steps to a healthy life include eating a balanced diet (getting daily recommended nutrition that includes calcium, vitamins and minerals); engaging in regular exercise; limiting alcoholic beverages; quitting smoking; and living without stress.
Various screenings and tests are also important. The basic screenings for adults include physical exams for height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, bone density, breast examinations and mammograms, and prostate and colon cancer exams.
Adults, like children, need to keep their immunizations up to date. A single-dose pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years and older to prevent pneumonia caused by streptococcus pneumoniae. Other immunizations adults should have include:
1. Three tetanus and diphtheria shots are recommended along with a booster shot every 10 years.
2. One dose of measles vaccine is recommended for those born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated. It is also highly recommended for women of childbearing age.
3. Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine are recommended for adults who work in kitchens and for people who travel to countries where there are high levels of hepatitis A.
4. The chicken pox vaccine is recommended for adults who have not had chicken pox before and for those who have had this disease. Also, a vaccine against shingles is now available and recommended for older adults whether or not they've had an episode of shingles.  
5. The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for college freshmen who live on campus.
Prevention is definitely the key but being aware of your body and reacting promptly when certain symptoms occur can be critical. Symptoms that require immediate attention include:
• Sudden or developing problems with speech or sight;
• Sudden or developing trouble with balance and coordination;
• Sudden numbness or weakness in face, arms or legs;
• Severe pain or “pressure” in the chest or left arm;
• Loss of consciousness or difficulty in breathing;
• Profuse, unexplained and unchecked  bleeding.
Symptoms tell us when our body is in distress or when a health problem is present. The symptoms listed below indicate that it’s time to see your health-care provider in a timely fashion.
• Symptoms that indicate stomach or intestinal problems are: bleeding from the rectum; vomiting up blood; and blood or mucus in the stool or black stools.
• Symptoms that indicate problems in the respiratory system are: coughing up blood; and shortness of breath or wheezing.
• Symptoms that indicate muscle or bone joint (muscular-skeleton) disorders are: numbness; tingling (pins and needles sensation) or discomfort in hands, feet, or limbs; pain, stiffness, swelling, or redness in or around joints; and muscle pains and body aches that are persistent, or come and go often.
• Symptoms indicative of bladder, prostate or kidney problems are: blood in urine; difficult or painful urination; frequent urination or loss of bladder control; and feeling the urge to urinate when your bladder is empty.

Ratcliffe is the public information officer for the Liberty County Health Department.
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