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1 Feb

Dr Mbangata’s 2023 Health Guide

The author of the powerful kindergarten song: heads, shoulders, knees and toes was definitely onto something with her approach to the bodily systems. She scientifically snapped. I strongly believe she was a woman. 

Systems that manifest the most detectable problems are outlined below. As much as this is a guide, reporting to your health care provider still trumps everything. Any ache, speck on the skin or abnormal feeling noted by you should be reported, explored and treated promptly. Seeking professional advice pertaining to your health is important and not demeaning. I hope men heed this call more. So, as we gear ourselves up for the year, let us keep these health checks in mind:

Mental check

Nothing gets your head right like getting your mind right. You want to be in the best place mentally to pace the rest of your body systems well for the race that lies ahead in the year. Literally. The best way to do this is to get the central nervous system optimal. How? 

  • Meditation, relaxation and therapy. By being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our mental health, we stand a good chance of getting to the finish line. 
  • Forging supportive relationships with boundaries in the form of family or friendships is important.
  • Time and stress management is also crucial.

Eye Examination

  • In the absence of chronic illnesses or visual problems, eye examinations are usually done every 5 years between the ages of 20-39. 
  • Technology is however having an influence in the eyesight of young and old people. Nearsightedness, also known as myopia and dry eyes syndrome due to long computer screen times have become more common. Getting an eye exam every two years is thus recommended.

Dentist visit

  • Twice yearly appointments is the recommendation however, presence of gum or tooth conditions warrants these appointments to be conducted more often than bi-annually.

Lifestyle checks

  • HIV test- every 3 months. Find out more about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) to protect yourself if you are sexually active.
  • For those already on treatment, visits should be conducted as recommended by your health provider.
  • STI screening is recommended for those who are sexually active for prompt treatment and prevention strategies.

Men Cancer Screening

  • Prostate cancer is checked from age 50 through a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. From the age of 40-45 if a positive family history is present.
  • Testicular cancer – gently palpate testicles for lumps and bumps monthly after a shower and report to  your doctor if any abnormalities felt
  • For baby boys, ensure both testicles are palpable BEFORE age 2, if not, take them to the doctor for further examination and testing to prevent testicular cancer and infertility.

Women Cancer Screening 

  • Pap smear for women is done every three years depending on the laboratory results found. It takes less than 5 minutes to do and is not painful but slightly uncomfortable for some. It basically helps to screen for abnormal cells that have the potential to become cancer later. Early screening helps to detect and treat cancer early.  
  • Breast cancer screening is done from the age of 40 upwards through a Mammogram test. Monthly, gently palpate for lumps and bumps in your breasts.

Chronic condition checks

  • Blood pressure checks every two years and yearly if a strong family history is present
  • Blood glucose screening checks are not routinely done in South Africa in the absence of risk. Family history, weight loss or gain with other suggestive diabetes symptoms such as increased thirst, appetite, frequent urination etcetera warrant screening.

The crux to being healthy in 2023 lies in being proactive about your health choices. Be intentional about eating a healthy, balanced diet; incorporate an exercise routine of 30 minutes minimum at least 5 times a week (depending on one’s health conditions and tolerability). Reducing alcohol intake and smoking is all it takes most times to avoid the majority of health conditions and cancers. These are but the basics of attaining a healthy, balanced life.People often speak of securing the bag, which is important, but the ultimate bag here is YOU. I wish you a healthy, productive year ahead.

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