This Issue

Checkup

Mental health
is equally important

Back to school health checklist

Q & A

Mind and body:
Your emotions can affect your health


When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something is not quite right. The following are physical symptoms that your emotional health may be off kilter:

• Back or chest pain
• Change in appetite
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Dry mouth
• Extreme fatigue
• General aches and pains
• Headaches
• High blood pressure
• Trouble sleeping
• Lightheadedness
• Palpitations — feeling that your heart is racing
• Sexual problems
• Shortness of breath
• Upset stomach
• Weight gain or loss

If these symptoms persist for several weeks and have no known medical cause, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Source: American Academy of Family Physicians

Are you depressed and don’t know it?

Mind and body: Your emotions can affect your health

Take a good look at yourself

Get the right number

Health
screenings

Health screenings

RoxComp
435 Warren Street, Roxbury
Date: August 10
Time: 4 - 7 p.m.
617-442-7400 x2278

United for Elders Expo
Central Boston Elder Services
Boston Sheraton Hotel
39 Dalton Street, Boston
Date: August 11
Time: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
617-267-2244

South End Community
Health Center

1601 Washington Street, Boston
Date: August 13
Time: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
617-425-2000 x3088

Health Care Revival
Mattapan Community Health Center
294 River Street, Mattapan
Date: September 10
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
617-296-0061


Upham’s Corner Health Center

Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road, Dorchester
Date: October 15
Time: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
617-740-8128
Another good reason to visit the dentist


“All you have to do is open your mouth.”

— The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance


The oral cancer examination is painless and quick … and life-saving. When cancers of the head and neck are found early, the cure rate is high. Annual screenings by a doctor or dentist should be a part of your regular physical or dental checkup. The provider:

• Inspects your face, neck, lips and mouth.

• Feels the area under your jaw and the sides of your neck, checking for unusual lumps.

• Asks you to stick out your tongue to check for swelling, color and texture.

• Using gauze, lifts your tongue and pulls it from one side, then the other.

• Checks the roof and floor of your mouth and the back of your throat.

• Feels and examines the insides of your lips and cheeks for red or white patches.

• Places one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, presses down to check for unusual lumps or sensitivity.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer
Awareness Week is May 8 – 14.


Photo by Vannessa Carrington/Mass. Eye and Ear

Get screened for head and neck
cancer. It’s free, quick and painless.

Boston Medical Center
Moakley Building Lobby
830 Harrison Avenue
Date: April 2
Time: 8 a.m. - noon
617-638-8260

Tufts Medical Center
860 Washington Street
Date: May 12
Time: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
617-636-1664
Mass Eye and Ear
243 Charles Street
Date: May 13
Time: TBA
617-573-3340
Dedham Family Dental
Dr. Helaine Smith
30 Milton Street, Dedham
Date: May 11
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
781-326-4600

Mass General Hospital
Voice Center

One Bowdoin Square,
11th Floor
Date: May 13
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
617-726-0218
Remember to call ahead to confirm
time and date
of screenings.

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Get the right number

Blood Pressure

• Normal
Less than 120/80

• Pre-hypertension
120 to 139 / 80 to 89



• Stage 1 hypertension
140 to 159 / 90 to 99

• Stage 2 hypertension
160/100 and above
Cholesterol

• Total — Less than 200

• HDL — “Good” Cholesterol
Greater than 40




• LDL — “Bad” Cholesterol
Less than 100
Triglycerides
Less than 150
Blood Glucose

• Fasting
Less than 100


• Random (after eating)
Less than 140
Waist Circumference

• Women
under 35 inches


• Men
under 40 inches
Body Mass Index (BMI)
18.5 - 24.9

Back to school health checklist
When you send your children off to school this fall,
make sure healthy habits are part of their daily curriculum.

 

“Parents are great teachers,” said Dr. Jan Cook, medical director at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “Help your children develop lifelong healthy habits by reinforcing a simple message: 5-2-1. Eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruit a day. Limit screen time to two hours a day. Get one hour of physical activity every day.”

Our back-to-school checklist expands on these tips to help children stay healthy and grow strong.

For a healthy body

• Schedule checkups

A yearly exam by a pediatrician and twice yearly dental visits help children stay healthy. Call today for appointments if needed. Ask the doctor’s office whether your child’s vaccinations and booster shots are up to date. That’s important. Earlier this year, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported numerous outbreaks of measles, a disease that can be prevented through vaccines. Yearly flu vaccines are now recommended for children six months and older.

• Be active

An hour of moderate activity a day, such as brisk walking, helps children stay within a healthy weight range and wards off diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are becoming more common in children and may lead to later heart disease. Encourage your child to join school sports teams or clubs and activities designed to burn energy. Remind children to stay safe during sports by drinking plenty of water before, during and afterward — especially on hot days — and wearing protective gear like helmets, padding and footwear appropriate for the sport. Call a doctor for advice following any head injury.

Pack a Healthy Lunch

Shop fall farmers’ markets for fresh veggies and fruits. Hold taste tests at home featuring new choices and old standbys: winners claim a spot in school lunch bags. Boston residents who use SNAP benefits (previously called food stamps) can get 50 percent off farmers’ market purchases up to $20 through the Boston Bounty Bucks Program. Learn more at the market information table or www.thefoodproject.org/bountybucks.

Along with a sandwich or yogurt, pack a handful of grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery, crunchy salad greens or farmers’ market favorites. Pair with a protein-packed dip like hummus or bean dip or a small amount of salad dressing. Apple slices dusted with cinnamon, orange slices, seedless grapes (preferably red) and berries are easy, healthy fruit choices. Water, skim milk or low-fat milk are great choices for beverages.

Why stop at lunch? Try sprinkling fruit on yogurt or whole grain cereal for breakfast. Beware breakfast bars and toaster pastries, which pack a wallop of sugar. Cut back on sugary cereals by alternating days with healthier breakfast foods or allowing children to sprinkle a handful of sweeter cereals, raisins or other dried fruit on unsweetened or very lightly sweetened cereal. At dinner, liven up plates with one or more colorful servings of vegetables and fruit.

Sports can be pricey, so ask about school-sponsored scholarships and free after-school activities (check your community recreation department, too). Resale stores like Play It Again Sports buy sell and trade good-quality used sports equipment. Thrift stores may be good sources too.

• Curb screen time

Limit screen time — that’s TV, texting, video games, surfing the web or chatting on social networking sites — to two hours daily. Excess weight, unhealthy snacking, less activity and more exposure to ads for fast foods, sugary cereals and unhealthy snacks are associated with more than two hours of TV per day. Move TVs and computers out of the bedroom (park cell phones outside bedrooms at night, too). Decide with your child where and when to spend screen time and whether chores and homework must be finished first.

• Lighten the load

Heavy backpacks can injure backs. First, lighten up. Teachers sometimes have extra texts that students can leave at home. If you have Internet access, ask teachers if any textbooks are available free online with a school password. Libraries offer free fiction and nonfiction books as well as online texts and services.

Next, look for back-saving options. Buy a rolling backpack or one with wide, well-padded shoulder straps, a padded back and preferably a waist strap that helps support some weight. Adjust straps snugly.

• Sidestep germs

Schools are an excellent breeding ground for germs. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into an elbow. Remind them to wash hands after using the bathroom, before eating and after coughing or sneezing into hands. Hand sanitizer helps when washing up isn’t possible.

• Stay home when necessary


Sick days happen, so make backup plans now. Can you make up sick time or work from home? Can a relative or responsible neighbor step in when a child is sick? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, good reasons to keep a child home include persistent fever (above 100.4° F by mouth); severe sore throat lasting at least 48 hours or severe headache, especially coupled with a fever; a significant rash; diarrhea; uncontrolled coughing; or lots of discolored nasal discharge. You should check with your child’s doctor if symptoms persist or worsen. Remember, sending children to school sick exposes others to your child’s illness and can make school an unhealthy place.