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Healthcare For The New Year

A doctor and a patient | Photo Webmd

2020. This year has been defined by the global spread of a viral pneumonia first discovered in Wuhan, China around this time in 2019 and aptly named COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2 or coronavirus). The virus was first found in wet markets but soon spread all over the world, bringing it to a standstill. Governments scrambled to secure their borders and people, sporting events were cancelled, some postponed, and at the time of writing this piece, around one and a half million people have been killed by the virus.

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In a positive turn of events since the disease reached pandemic level, a few vaccine candidates are now showing remarkable promise and are currently being rolled out. This, in no small part, will ensure that the world can return to its previous state of normalcy, or something close to it.

While the bulk of the conversation has rightly been about the coronavirus, other health concerns did not take a break this year. Just as there have been numerous deaths that can be traced to the virus itself or restrictions and economic losses it triggered, there have also been a lot of deaths from other causes, such as heart disease and diabetes. As 2021 beckons, here are some personal health lessons from 2020 to take into the New Year:

1. Hygiene is very important:

From food poisoning to coronavirus, a lot of infectious diseases can be prevented by ensuring hygienic practises at home and in public places. These include frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers, washing food items before consumption, and cooking meals properly. It also extends to practices such as coughing into the elbow, avoiding direct contact with an ill person, and eating a balanced diet.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle:

This encompasses aspects of health such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and quitting harmful habits like smoking. In addition to being one of the risk factors for predicting fatalities or severe outcomes in coronavirus infection, these factors—chronic smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity—are also culpable in the development or worsening of other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

3. Manage stress effectively:

Dealing with stress effectively, by learning a new skill, engaging in your hobbies, and sleeping well can help your overall mental health, ensure you can function properly, and are well equipped to deal with stressful situations. Being unable to cope with stress is detrimental to your health and overall wellbeing as it can worsen existing physical and mental symptoms.

4. Manage pre-existing health conditions:

If you have been diagnosed with a long-term illness that requires medications and follow-up, it is imperative that you follow through with the treatment required. The pandemic affected people unequally with the most at-risk groups being the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

5. Be responsible:

The coronavirus spread and reached pandemic status due to our collective negligence and slow reaction. Being responsible includes self-isolating at home when you fall ill. If you notice any symptom, isolating yourself from others is the best way to curb the spread of the coronavirus. If you have to go out, maintaining social distance is the responsible thing to do. Also, ensure you wear a face mask when going out in public. Protect others by protecting yourself.

Health policies | Photo shutterstock

6. First aid is important:

Taking lessons in the provision of first aid care to people in need before their arrival at a hospital may be the difference between life and death or severe outcomes for the affected persons. Learning about the correct response to emergencies will go a long way in helping us provide help to those in need whenever the situation comes up. It is also very important because carrying out the wrong actions when providing first aid can be harmful to the victim.

7. Pay attention to your health:

This includes getting periodic checkups, paying attention to your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Typically, diseases that result from uncontrolled blood pressure or sugar are silent at first. Carrying out these steps will help you discover any problem early and enable you to deal with it decisively before complications set in. Early detection saves lives.

8. Eat a healthy diet:
A quick rule is to reduce your intake of salt and sugar. This is because excessive salt intake leaves you at a higher risk of developing hypertension and consequently heart disease. Processed sugar in fizzy drinks also causes tooth decay and gum disease, and weight gain.

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