27 September 2017

An Apple a Day: Expanding Your Medical Knowledge to Improve Your Self-Care

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We’re all familiar with the age-old adage: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But sadly, ensuring that you get vitamins and nutrients from our diet isn’t always a surefire way to guarantee good health. There are so many other things that can go wrong or cause complications for us down the line. But not to worry. There are ways to ensure a better standard of living when it comes to your body’s functioning: medical knowledge. Understanding how your body works and how certain illnesses, diseases or injuries can affect it allows you to take care of yourself in the best and most effective way possible. While we do not advocate self-diagnosis (you should always seek advice and help from your doctor when suffering from serious symptoms or abnormalities of any kind), being aware of warning signs can allow you to seek help sooner rather than later and treat your condition effectively. So, here are a few ways that you can expand your medical knowledge to improve your self-care regime!

Be Aware of Common Illnesses--

There are certain illnesses that we all experience at some point or another during our lives. They are often nothing to worry about and something that your body will overcome itself. However, having a more in-depth knowledge of them will allow you to differentiate between a common condition and something that may be a little more serious. You will also be able to treat the symptoms in a more productive way, resulting in less discomfort. Take the common cold as an example. The common cold is a mild infection of the nose, throat, upper airways and sinuses that comes hand in hand with rather unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can include a blocked or a runny nose, watery eyes, a sore throat, sneezing and a cough. You may also have a temperature, mild headache or fatigue. However, as we are all well aware, the common cold will usually pass without any professional intervention. Understanding the early warning signs, however, will allow you to stock up on healthcare essentials to make your inevitable experience a little more bearable and comfortable. Cough syrups and lozenges can soothe the throat, paracetamol or ibuprofen can combat headaches and other aches and pains. Nasal decongestants can open up airways, allowing a more comfortable night’s sleep. Knowing how long you should allow yourself to recover will also ensure that you know when to seek further help. The symptoms of a common cold should only last up to three weeks at the most. Bearing this small piece of information in mind will allow you to make a doctor’s appointment if your symptoms exceed this period of time, allowing a professional to examine you for signs of further infection or refer you for chest scans if needs be. So, start doing your research in regards to other common conditions to prepare yourself! Consider reading up on tonsillitis, food allergies, asthma, eczema, arthritis, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Become a Professional--

If you find that you have a particular interest in helping yourself and others when it comes to ill health, you might want to consider going professional. Undertaking higher education in the field of medicine is a lengthy process that requires dedication. However, it is highly rewarding. You will be in receipt of the best medical education available to you and amongst individuals who have similar passions to you. There are different types of nursing degrees and medical degrees out there. So whittle down your interests and find the most appropriate course for you.

a.) Nursing Degrees

A nursing degree is the first step on an individual’s journey to becoming a registered and qualified nurse. It will teach you the basics that you require to excel in the field. They will generally take three to four years of full-time study, but this can be accelerated through a graduate course that will usually take around two years. It will consist of both academic and practical study. Part of the practical study will usually be a placement, where you will have to work in a professional manner in a professional environment. You will be able to specialize as time goes on, focusing your efforts on areas such as child nursing, emergency room nursing or midwifery.

b.) Medical Degrees

Medical degrees take a little longer, often taking up to six or seven years to complete. Again, it will consist of both academic study and professional practice through placements in hospitals or surgeries. The course itself will integrate the teaching of medical knowledge with a focus on the essential personal and professional skills required to form a brilliant doctor.

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Take a First-Aid Course--

Of course, many of us will already have chosen career paths, or may not wish to engage with medicine on a professional basis. However, that’s not to say you should completely sweep the option of learning completely under the carpet. There are plenty of shorter courses available that could make all the difference when it comes to emergency situations, should they unfortunately arise. One of the most useful? First-aid courses. These focus on the care of individuals from birth to childhood straight through to adulthood. Remember, people of different ages and sizes will require specific treatment. A standard course will usually consist of CPR technique, using an automated external defibrillator (AED) and how to deal with asthma attacks, broken bones, dislocations, chest pain, burns, soft tissue injuries, strokes, seizures, and bleeding. It will also teach you how to assess the scene and make the best decisions for everyone involved. More advanced courses will show you the basics of dealing with potential spinal injuries, burns, poisoning, environmental conditions and more major incidents. Completing these courses will ensure that you know how to take care of others should certain incidents occur, or give advice to others if you find yourself in a compromising position.

Recognize the Importance of Positive Mental Health--

Remember that not all illness is tangible. Mental illness can have just as devastating an effect on a person’s life as physical illness. However, as mental illness often pertains a certain taboo or is less frequently talked about, we often are less aware of its signs, symptoms or effects on individual lives. So familiarize yourself with common mental illnesses in order to understand the inner workings of your own mind and the minds of those you love. This will allow you to seek professional help when necessary or at least give yourself a less harsh time for feeling certain ways. Common symptoms of mental illness include feeling sad or down, having excessive fears, worries or feelings of guilt, extreme switches in an individual's mood, reduced rationality, an inability to concentrate, major changes in libido, anger, hostility or violence, alcohol or drug abuse and an inability to cope with everyday situations. We are more likely to turn a blind eye to major changes in our mental health than we are to ignore notable changes in our physical health. However, mental health problems that are left unaddressed often mushroom, developing into an increasingly negative state which can have profoundly detrimental consequences to an individual. So, start talking about mental health. You could also start reading up on conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar and personality disorders. The more you know, the more informed you can be in seeking help and avoid a downward spiral.

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Avoid Dismissing Popular Health Trends--

The term mindfulness has been thrown about a lot lately, and many people will automatically reject it as some sort of ineffective health fad or useless trend. However, every now and then an alternative form of health care really can have some positive effects for numerous individuals. Mindfulness, for example, can prove brilliantly helpful for a whole host of mental conditions or those harboring pent up anger and stress (which can have negative physical repercussion on the human body). It is essentially any practice that encourages the focus of attention on the present moment, rather than stressing about what’s happened in the past or lies in the future. While things such as this obviously won’t make problems disappear, they can help to bring an air of positivity, peace, and clarity to things that can only be a good thing. Other things to consider could include massage, acupuncture and various other forms of alternative healthcare. Some really do make sense, for example, deep massage helps to relax muscles and relieve tension.

So, there you have it! If you want to improve your self-care or the care that you give to others around you, it’s absolutely essential that you expand and improve your medical knowledge. Not only will it allow you to identify common conditions (allowing you to know how to treat them and differentiate them from something that may be more problematic), but it will endow you with the knowledge of what to do if you come across an emergency situation or are involved in an accident of some sort. So, it’s time to start studying!

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