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Preventing Diseases

With the current health crisis of COVID-19, staying healthy and preventing the spread of disease are more important than ever before. While there are certain steps that everyone can take to prevent illnesses like COVID-19, there are other steps that reduce risks associated with other common health problems, like Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and cardiovascular illnesses like heart disease. By taking these steps, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing these conditions, allowing you to live a healthy and happy life.

Preventing the Spread of Infectious Diseases

No one can watch the news or read the newspaper today without hearing about the current COVID-19 pandemic. Although scientists are currently developing several trial vaccines to treat the illness, there is not currently any medicine on the market to directly combat the viral pandemic.

Like many other infectious diseases, like the flu, the common cold, and pneumonia, the COVID-19 virus spreads as a result of person-to-person contact. Specifically, the illness can easily spread among individuals who are very near each other or in close contact. The virus enters a body through a person’s mouth or nose, something that often takes place when an infected person coughs, talks, or sneezes in close vicinity to someone else.

One of the best ways to prevent acquiring COVID-19 is to avoid exposure—or potential exposure—to others who have the virus. The good news is that you can several easy steps to prevent COVID-19 and other diseases.

Those steps include the following:

  • Regular hand washing – One of the best ways to prevent disease transmission is to wash your hands frequently, with both soap and water. You should scrub for approximately 20 seconds at a time, and be sure to cover all of your hands and fingers. Hand washing is especially important after you have been in a public place.
  • Use hand sanitizer – Using hand sanitizer is essential, especially if soap and water are not readily available. The hand sanitizer should contain a minimum of 60 percent alcohol. You should also avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth until you have used hand sanitizer (or soap and water to wash your hands).
  • Cover your nose and mouth, especially when out in public – If you have to go out in public, you should always wear a quality face mask that covers both your mouth and nose. This prevents virus-carriers from spreading the illness from their mouth and nose, and from healthy people from acquiring it the same way. Remember that you may be a carrier of the virus without showing any symptoms, such as a fever or coughing. You should always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you have to cough or sneeze—both in public and in private. After you cough or sneeze, you should throw the tissue in the trash and immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
  • Practice social distancing – To practice social distancing is to stay approximately six feet (or more) away from other individuals, and refrain from gathering in groups. You should also avoid populated public areas as much as possible—especially if you are vulnerable with a weakened immune system. Avoiding others, especially when out in public, is one of the best ways to protect yourself against the virus.
  • Be on the lookout for symptoms – During the current pandemic, monitor your own health every day. You should be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms, including coughing, fever, shortness of breath, and a decrease in or complete loss of your sense of smell. Take your body temperature on a regular basis.
  • Regularly disinfect common surfaces – In addition to monitoring your own health and well-being, you should make sure to disinfect and clean surfaces that you and others frequently touch. These surfaces include light switches, door handles, tables, desks, keyboards, phones, sinks, toilets, and countertops. Ideally, you should first clean these surfaces with ordinary soap and water, followed by a common household disinfectant.

Taking these steps can help you and members of your household stay healthy and prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

Although there is a genetic component to Alzheimer’s disease, there are several things that you can do to make it less likely you will develop the condition and the common symptoms that are associated with it, including memory loss and the inability to concentrate. One of the best ways to prevent Alzheimer’s is to keep your brain and your memory active. Doing so helps to increase the brain’s vitality and “build up reserves of brain cells and connections.”

Some of the most important steps that you can take to prevent Alzheimer’s and associated memory loss include the following:

  • Work puzzles, write, and read – Taking part in these activities on a regular basis can help you keep your mind and memory active, and your thinking skills sharp.
  • Take a class – Taking a class, such as a cooking class, is a way of engaging your brain and learning something new and stimulating. It can also help you with recall and puts you in a position where you have to regularly remember things. Taking an adult education course, learning how to play an instrument, or learning to speak a foreign language can help you keep your mind vital and active.
  • Learning a new skill – Learning how to do a new skill will require you to be attentive and breaks up activities in your life that are routine. Learning a new skill also requires you to utilize several of your body’s senses.
  • Use your memory to recall specific things – Regularly exercising your memory could prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s. You can do this by making lists and then later trying to recall the items that you placed on the lists.
  • Play games – Playing games is also a great way to prevent the memory losses associated with Alzheimer’s. The best games are those that encourage you to recall and apply information. Many of these types of memory games are available through apps on your smartphone, such as Eidetic, which can help you learn and recall facts and words through a process known as spaced repetition.
  • Get regular physical exercise – Exercise increases blood flow throughout the body—including to the brain. As a result, daily exercise can have a tremendous impact on your health and well-being, and can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent. Some of the best exercises you can participate in include tennis, swimming, walking, and weight training. In addition to helping your brain, these types of exercises also work to improve your physical health and prevent cardiovascular disease.

Preventing Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease that takes many forms, and kills hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year. However, there are certain steps that you can take to reduce the likeliness of developing certain types of cancer. In fact, many forms of cancer are entirely preventable.

Steps you can take to avoid developing certain types of cancer include the following:

  • Refrain from smoking and using tobacco products – Using cigarettes and tobacco products is one of the primary risk factors for colorectal, lung, throat, breast, bladder, cervical, esophageal, and mouth cancers. Moreover, individuals who frequently expose themselves to second-hand smoke are at risk of developing certain types of cancers—most especially lung cancer.
  • Eat healthy foods – Eating a regular diet of vegetables, grains, fruits, and beans—and limiting your processed meat and red meat intake—can help you prevent certain types of cancers. In addition, limit your alcohol consumption to prevent colorectal, liver, and breast cancer.
  • Protect your skin – Overexposing your skin to the sun is dangerous and can lead to skin cancer. Limiting your sun exposure is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer. When you are outside, it is important to wear sunglasses and sunblock that have ultraviolet protection. You should also refrain from using indoor tanning beds.
  • Know and understand your family history – Knowing and understanding your family health history on both sides is important when it comes to preventing certain diseases by being aware of them, and taking subsequent steps to decrease the likeliness of developing the illnesses (including cancer). For example, if you know that there is a history of skin cancer in your family, you should be wary of lying out in the sun for long periods of time. Knowing your family history also encourages early testing and screening, which can make a huge difference in terms of treatment. Most forms of cancer are treatable if you can detect them early on, before they spread and cause irreversible damage.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of disability and death throughout the United States today. Although there are some factors surrounding heart disease that you cannot control, including gender, age, ethnicity, and family health history, there are certain risk factors that you can be aware of.

By taking the following actions, you significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease:

  • Control your cholesterol intake – When your cholesterol intake is high, your arteries can become clogged. This increases your risk of heart disease or heart attacks. Watching what you eat, in addition to exercising on a regular basis, can decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
  • Monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis – One of the biggest factors that lead to heart disease is having high blood pressure. Most adults should check their blood pressure once annually at a minimum—and significantly more if you suffer from hypertension.
  • Eat healthy foods – Eating healthy means consuming a great deal of fruits and vegetables, and staying away from saturated fat and processed foods—especially those which contain a high amount of sugar and sodium.
  • Maintain your weight at a healthy level – Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease, because of its association with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels. One way to significantly decrease weight gain is to exercise on a regular basis and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Refrain from smoking – Because smoking tends to raise a person’s blood pressure, smokers are at high risk for strokes and heart disease. One of the best things that you can do for yourself and your body is to avoid smoking in the first place. If you already smoke, quitting smoking can significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease later on.
  • Managing your stress levels – Extreme stress can trigger a heart attack. Constant exposure to stress puts you at risk of a heart attack or stroke. Not only that, but activities that people use to cope with their high stress levels, such as smoking, drinking, and overeating, can also lead to heart problems. Certain activities and coping mechanisms, such as yoga or meditation, can help you deal with your stress in a healthy way.
  • Getting enough sleep – In addition to making you groggy and exhausted, not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure—a strong risk factor for developing heart disease. On average, adults should try and get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Doing so will help them to feel well-rested and productive the next day.

Eliminating Risk Factors

One of the most important things that you can do to remain healthy and prevent disease is to eliminate as many health risks as possible in your lifestyle. Although individuals cannot control factors like age, ethnicity, and gender, there are certain actions that they can take every day to decrease their likelihood of illness and increase their chances of leading a healthy, active, and productive life.

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