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Top Tips To Keep The Grim Reaper At Bay

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You no doubt have a lot on your plate, but keeping yourself healthy is crucial to being able to work on the operation, or even enjoy the work.

We likely all know someone who seemingly runs to the doctor for every nick and hiccup. Conversely, we also probably know someone who would only see a physician if they were delivered there in an unconscious state. With time at a premium and a tendency toward fierce independence and self-reliance, cattle producers – for whom nicks, bumps and bruises just go with the territory of working with animals – probably fall more into the latter category than the former.

My sense is, however, that this attitude isn’t as prevalent as it was a couple of decades ago. I think prevention is more top of mind when it comes to health than it used to be. But I do know folks who hate doctor’s visits just as much as dental appointments. In fact, one friend is quite proud that he hasn’t seen a doctor in more than a dozen years.

I recently ran across a news release regarding symptoms no one should ignore. These are the serious health warnings that a busy person might ignore or put off, often with dire or fatal consequences. The release said that of the 715,000 Americans who have a heart attack each year, about 525,000 are first-timers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. So, besides perhaps feeling bullet-proof, these folks, as first-timers, often don’t know or appreciate what is happening to them. By “shrugging off” the effects to see if they might pass, rather than seeking immediate medical attention, they’re playing with life and death, says Dale Hemstalk, a career firefighter paramedic with more than 20 years of emergency medical experience.

“If someone is having a heart attack, for example, they should get to the hospital without delay upon the initial onset of symptoms,” Hemstalk says. “We live in an age in which we should be taking greater advantage of our technology for health purposes – but you have to call for help first!”

These are the warning signs Hemstalk says to not ignore:

• Symptoms for a heart attack: Men and women frequently report different symptoms. Men tend to have the “classic” signs, such as pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that goes away and comes back; pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms; chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

For women, symptoms tend to be back or jaw pain; difficulty breathing; nausea or dizziness; unexplainable anxiety or fatigue; mild flu-like symptoms; palpitations; cold sweats or dizziness. Triggers tend to be different between the sexes, too. In women, it’s often stress; in men, it’s physical exertion.

• Symptoms for a stroke: There are clear, telltale characteristics of a stroke, including sagging on one side of the face, an arm that’s drifting down and garbled speech. But there are also more subtle signs from the onset, such as sudden numbness of one side of the body, including an arm, leg and part of the face; sudden confusion, trouble speaking and understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden loss of balance; or sudden headache for no apparent reason. Risk factors include diabetes, tobacco use, hypertension, heart disease, a previous stroke, irregular heartbeat, obesity, high cholesterol and heavy alcohol use.

 • Symptoms for heart failure: This is not the same as a heart attack, which occurs when a vessel supplying the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients becomes completely blocked. Heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart can’t pump properly, which may be due to fluid in the lungs. Warning signs include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen ankles, chest congestion and an overall limitation on activities. Just one of these symptoms may not be cause for alarm; but more than one certainly is. Risk factors include various heart problems, serious viral infections, drug or alcohol abuse, severe lung disease and chemotherapy.

Hemstalk offers this last piece of advice: “At no point should anyone be discouraged from calling 911; the bottom line is, if you feel it’s an emergency and you need to call 911, call 911! There are many reasons to seek assistance from emergency responders, and they aren’t limited to those that I’ve mentioned.”

Think about it. You no doubt have a lot on your plate, but keeping yourself healthy is crucial to being able to work on the operation, or even enjoy the work. Take the time to implement the prevention steps to keep yourself health, and act immediately if you detect critical warning signs that something might not be right. 

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Everyday musings from BEEF Editors on the latest beef industry news and events.

Contributors

Joe Roybal

Joe is a native of South Dakota and a graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in journalism. He worked as a daily newspaper reporter and photographer before doing a six-year stint...

Burt Rutherford

Burt has nearly 30 years’ experience communicating about beef industry issues. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now...

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