Finish 2019 with routine health maintenance

As the calendar year draws to a close, it is a good time for Insulators and their families to remember to perform some necessary maintenance around the house, such as change the battery in all smoke alarms, replace the furnace filter and shut off the water to the outdoor spigot.

Now is also an excellent time to perform some routine maintenance to keep your body functioning as efficiently as possible. This article will provide reminders about some simple and straightforward steps to take in order to make 2020 a healthier year and increase your chances of seeing many more New Years’ Eves. The first reminder involves vaccinations. Before we had vaccinations to help our bodies fight off infections, millions of children and adults died each year from the flu, which is also called influenza.

The flu has been responsible for countless deaths throughout the world. The “flu shot” can save lives, especially in the very young, the elderly and those people who have other illness. Unless there is some compelling reason to not be vaccinated, such as an allergy to the vaccine itself, you should get a “flu shot” every year.

Some people tell me they get the flu when they get vaccinated, and as an honest matter, some flu shots can give you symptoms of the flu and some types of flu vaccines can give you a mild type of the flu (be sure to ask your Health Care Provider for the specifics as they might affect you).

However, what I was taught in medical school remains true today – if you get flu symptoms or a mild type of the flu from the vaccine, the chances are overwhelming you would be a lot sicker if you had contracted the actual flu and likely require hospitalization. Please ask your doctor about getting vaccinated against the flu.

I do have one other thought on the vaccination issue. Some people do not get their children vaccinated to prevent harming them. They believe the medicines injected have a greater chance of causing disease than the illness they are intend to prevent. This is simply not true. I had four kids and everyone got all the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended vaccinations.

Another vaccination highly recommended because of its lifesaving abilities is the pneumonia vaccination. People with a low level of abnormality in the lungs caused by cigarettes, workplace dust, fumes, vapors or even low-level exposure to asbestos can get pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. The pneumonia vaccination can be especially lifesaving for insulators, as pneumonia is the deadliest disease for people with asbestosis.

Click here to find a chart featuring the various vaccinations available and when the CDC recommends people should be vaccinated.

The second reminder involves routine medical tests and procedures. Now is a good time to ask your doctor about a sigmoidoscopy, which looks at the lower portion of the colon, or a colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon. During either of these procedures, the doctor will give you a medicine to prevent pain and make you sleepy. Once you are out, they insert a flexible, thin tube inside of you in order to look inside your colon for any growths or cancer.

Now in honesty, this will never be a ride at Disneyworld, but given the frequency of colon cancer and the fact it is related to asbestos exposure, this is a very important test. Insulators should also undergo a whole body skin exam each year, especially if you work in the sunlight, as UV-rays create an increased risk of skin cancer and melanoma.

Insulators and their families should follow the guidelines and get low-dose CT x-rays of the lungs. For men of a certain age, it is important to have a prostate examination. While there are some disagreements about when men should get their first “PSA” test for prostate cancer, this test should be performed every year. Although some disagreement also exists between doctors as to when patients should get mammograms,

Pap smears, cholesterol tests, diabetes tests and other related therapeutics, you should ask your doctor about these things every year as well. I hope these reminders will help you have a safe and happy New Year. Please remember, this is not a complete list of all the yearly test and exams required. Your doctor is the best source of health information, but feel free to call us if you have questions.

ins-logoDr. Michael Harbut, a world-renowned researcher and physician with several decades of experience treating asbestos exposed patients, leads a team of occupational hazard researchers at the St. John Providence Health System in Michigan. Harbut is the medical advisor to The Breath of Life Foundation since inception in 2009 and continues to be a trusted partner with the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. Dr. Harbut is available if any members of our Insulators Union family have questions regarding diagnosis or the approach your doctor might be taking for as asbestos-related disease. Dr. Harbut can be reached at 248-849-3107.

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