Having to take time off work to visit the doctor is no one’s idea of fun. Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to improve your health and your family’s health so you can minimize the number of trips you take to the doctor’s office each year.
The following is a list of the top reasons people in the United States go to the doctor, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic.
1. Skin Disorders
Skin disorders refer to conditions such as acne, cysts and dermatitis. While skin disorders most often affect patients 18 years and younger, adults can be affected too. In fact, 20 percent of acne cases occur in adulthood.
While the occasional pimple is part of life, there are steps you can take to keep your skin healthy. For instance, avoid touching your face throughout the day and make sure to take a shower after exercising to keep pores clean. Use fragrance-free soaps and cleansers and make sure you keep your skin from getting too dry.
2. Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis
One-third of Americans report having joint pain. Joint pain can be caused by various conditions including osteoarthritis—the most common form of arthritis in the United States—and often worsens with age. While osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body, it most frequently affects the joints in your knees, hips, hands and spine.
Staying active, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight are all key to maintaining joint function. When exercising, try to mix in low-impact exercises like the elliptical machine and swimming, since high-impact exercises like running can lead to joint pain. If you feel pain, ice the affected area to minimize tissue swelling and allow your body time to rest.
3. Back Problems
Back problems plague millions of America each year, and are one of the leading causes of disability. The pain may be a dull ache, shooting pain or a burning sensation. Treatment for back pain varies based on the type of injury and the nerves or joints affected.
One of the best ways to prevent back injuries is to have good posture. Good posture allows your muscles and ligaments to work properly and decreases your risk of injury. If your job involves sitting at a computer, avoid slouching forward and put your computer at eye level to avoid straining your neck by constantly looking down. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, especially your core muscles, can improve spine health.
4. Cholesterol Problems
High cholesterol more than doubles your chances of developing heart disease—the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in fats in your blood, which your body needs to function. Having too much cholesterol, though, causes walls to build up in your arteries, making it difficult for blood to circulate.
Keep cholesterol levels in check by eating a well-balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and by limiting red meat and sugar. Being active and avoiding tobacco can also help promote heart health. Scheduling preventive care visits and following screening recommendations from your doctor can help catch cholesterol issues before they become severe.
5. Upper Respiratory Problems (not including asthma)
Upper respiratory problems can occur at any time, but are most common in winter and fall. The upper respiratory system includes the nose, sinuses and throat. Symptoms often include congestion, facial pain or pressure, a runny or stuffy nose, a cough and a sore throat.
Keep your immune system healthy by washing your hands frequently, not sharing food and drinks with others, and not smoking. If your home is dry, use a humidifier to help you breathe easier. Also, sneezing or coughing into the bend of your elbow can help stop the spread of germs.
6. Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Mental health disorders like anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression affect millions of Americans each year. Mental health disorders can be difficult to treat and are frequent reasons for doctor’s visits.
While genetics and the environment play a role in the development of certain mental health disorders, effectively managing stress and getting frequent, mild exercise can help promote good mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust. Do not be ashamed to get help.
7. Chronic Neurology Disorders
Neurological disorders are diseases of the brain, spine and the nerves that connect them. There are hundreds of neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.
While many neurological diseases are not preventable, there are steps you can take now to promote overall brain health, which may help slow or delay the progression of certain neurological disorders. For instance, keeping your brain active by completing puzzles, word games or reading can be beneficial. In addition, eating a healthy diet, staying socially active, exercising frequently and getting enough sleep can help keep your mind sharp.
8. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which artery walls are exposed to constant, steady pressure causing the heart’s muscles to weaken. Hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure, and it also increases one’s risk for developing blood clots.
High blood pressure can be avoided by eating a heart-healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. Being active, abstaining from tobacco and maintaining a healthy weight can also help promote heart health.
9. Headaches and Migraines
Headaches refer to pain in any region of the head. Migraines are a type of headache that causes recurrent, throbbing pain which usually occurs on one side of the head. It can last for hours or days and can sometimes cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.
Although much is still unknown about the causes of headaches and migraines, some common triggers include stress, sensory stimuli (bright lights, loud sounds, etc.), weather changes and alcohol (especially wine). Certain foods like aged cheeses and food additivities like aspartame have also been identified as potential triggers. In addition, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, getting regular exercise and limiting stress can reduce the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines.
Approximately 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, and the rate of new cases continues to grow each year. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, strokes, amputations and kidney disease.
While type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented, type 2 diabetes can be avoided by exercising regularly and eating nutritiously. Maintaining a healthy weight is the biggest thing you can do to prevent type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, it is important that you are vigilant in monitoring your blood sugar so complications do not arise.
What You Can Do
While environmental and genetic factors play a factor in the development of diseases, living a healthy lifestyle now can improve your well-being for years to come. Plus, good primary care can help keep any health issues from progressing. If you haven’t already, check to see if your company has an on-site clinic option for primary care and take advantage if it is available to you.
Click here for more information about on-site clinics.
This information is abstracted from Zywave’s “Live Well, Work Well: Top 10 Most Common Reasons for Going to the Doctor” article.