Health Awareness Events In January 2015
The new year 2015, like several years before it, is marked with many special days, weeks and months dedicated to raising awareness about important health issues – specific conditions & diseases that people struggle with daily. A little awareness will avoid unnecessary excitement, correct misconceptions, eliminate stigma and also save life from deadly diseases.
In an effort to highlight and consolidate some of these special events, below is a quick glance at health awareness events taking place throughout the month of January 2015. So, look at the events below and find a cause, learn more, volunteer, make a contribution – make a difference!
January – Cervical Health Awareness Month
January is dedicated to helping women become educated on cervical health and disease risks and prevention. Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix. The cervix is the narrow opening into the uterus (womb) from the vagina. The good news is that cervical cancer is completely preventable – it is one of the most preventable types of cancer.
In recent times, the number of cases of cervical cancer and the number of deaths from cervical cancer have decreased significantly. This decline largely is the result of many women getting regular Pap Tests, which can find cervical pre-cancer before it turns into cancer. Cervical cancer is detected through regular Pap test, and HPV testing. If precancerous cells are detected and treated early you can stop cancer before it really starts.
Cervical cancer does not typically cause symptoms until it reaches a more advanced stage. At this time you may experience abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, heavy unusual discharge, increased urination, and painful urination. Notify your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms
January – Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma has been nicknamed the sneak thief of sight.
Glaucoma is a medical condition where either the eye produces too much fluid or the channels that carry fluid away become blocked. The result is increased intraocular pressure (IOP) and damage to the optic nerve leading to deterioration of vision and even blindness.
Nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it; which brings us to the “awareness” aspect of the month:
Because a condition like glaucoma has only a few to no early warning signs, the only really effective measure against blindness is early detection. With early detection, prevention and treatment options have greater chances of being met with success. And early detection isn’t something you can do on your own — instead, a comprehensive eye examination involving dilation of the eyes represents your best defense against glaucoma. Making sure you get regular, annual and comprehensive eye examinations from a licensed optometrist is the only way to ensure that you discover early signs of damaging eye conditions like glaucoma.
In the same spirit, World Braille Day is celebrated every year on 4th January around the world to commemorate the birthday of Louis Braille – who has been credited with inventing the Braille language which helps blind people to read as well as write.
Louis Braille was born in France. At the age of 3, he accidentally became blind. However, he had a great yearning to be able to read and write properly, despite his disability. And at the age of 15, he developed a set of symbols by making raised dots on a piece of paper. The dots could be easily felt by hand, thus enabling even the blind to feel them and hence, read and write.
January – National Birth Defects Prevention Month
National Birth Defects Prevention Month is a time to raise awareness of birth defects and promote healthy pregnancies.
birth defects (also referred as congenital anomalies) affect an estimated 1 in 33 infants and result in significant birth defect-related disabilities every year. The most common severe congenital anomalies are heart defects, neural tube defects and Down syndrome.
Many newborns with birth defects die during the first 28 days of life every year from congenital anomalies. For those who survive, birth defects may result in long-term disability, which may have significant impacts on individuals, families, health-care systems and societies.
Birth defects may be genetic, infectious or environmental in origin, but most often it is difficult to identify the exact causes.
Many birth defects can be prevented. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, these tips can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby:
Take a multivitamin with folic acid and iodine every day before and during pregnancy | See your doctor or midwife regularly as soon as you think you’re pregnant and throughout your pregnancy | Make sure your vaccinations are up to date | Eat well and stay active | Avoid alcohol, smoking, and other drug use | Prevent infections from food and other sources.
January – National Blood Donor Month
Blood is traditionally in short supply by year end due to the holidays, travel schedules, weather and illness. January, in particular, is a difficult month for blood centers to collect blood donations. A reduction in turnout can put the blood inventory at a critical low. January has been designated as National Blood Donor Month to encourage donors to give or pledge to give blood.
Find a convenient blood donation center near you and donate blood. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age and above, weigh at least 50 kilogram and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.
You don’t need a special reason to give blood. You just need your own reason. Some of us give blood because we were asked by a friend. Some know that a family member or a friend might need blood some day. Some believe it is the right thing to do. Whatever your reason, the need for blood is constant and your donation is important for maintaining a healthy and reliable blood supply. You’ll feel good knowing you’ve helped change a life!
January – Thyroid Awareness Month
The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Although relatively small, the thyroid gland influences the function of many of the body’s most important organs, including the heart, brain, liver, kidneys and skin.
Thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer. The most common thyroid problems involve abnormal production of thyroid hormones. Too much thyroid hormone results in a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Insufficient hormone production leads to hypothyroidism. Of course there are many others.
Warning Symptoms and Signs:
Weight Gain or Loss | Feeling Too Cold or Hot | Symptom: Changes in Energy or Mood | Swelling in the Neck | Changes in Heart Rate | Hair Loss | Eye changes like proptosis | Other Symptoms of Hypothyroidism (eg Dry skin and brittle nails | Numbness or tingling in the hands | Constipation | Abnormal menstrual periods | Other Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (eg. Muscle weakness or trembling hands | Vision problems | Diarrhea | Irregular menstrual periods)
If you or a loved one is experiencing the above, consult your doctor. They may not be the result of a thyroid gland disease, but they will need further investigation.
January – Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious brain disorder that impacts daily living through memory loss thinking and reasoning skills. Although not all memory loss indicates Alzheimer’s disease, it is the most common form of dementia One in ten people over 65 years of age, and over half of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s disease in differing severity. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease usually develop slowly and gradually worsen over time, progressing from mild forgetfulness to widespread brain impairment. More serious memory problems can make independent living difficult or even impossible
Some Warning Signs and Symptoms:
Memory loss that disrupts daily life | Challenges in planning or solving problems |Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure | Confusion with time or place | Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships | New problems with words in speaking or writing | Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps | Decreased or poor judgment | Withdrawal from work or social activities | Changes in mood and person
If your symptoms have been diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease:
Give yourself some time to adjust (it’s a major change in life) | Reach out for support (living with Alzheimer’s is not easy) | Make your wishes known (while you still can).
If you are a loved one/ caregiver:
Learn as much as you can about the disease | Seek help, don’t do it alone
Alzheimer’s treatment and Alzheimer’s care go hand in hand. Although there’s no cure yet, there’s a lot that can be done in terms of medications, sensory therapy, nutrition, psychological support, alternative medicine, and so on.Early diagnosis provides the best opportunities for treatment, support and future planning.