National Health Observances: January 2012

Many of this month’s health observances are unified by a common theme: Get screened!

As an umbrella approach to this month, consider offering a tool to help your employees keep track of recommended preventive screenings. (We have a handy health screenings refrigerator magnet, for instance.) What better way to start a year in good health than getting organized and making plans for year-round preventive care?

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Every year, 12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer. But cervical cancer is preventable, and regular Pap exams and HPV testing improves accuracy of screening results and can detect cancer early on, when it is far easier to treat. Our medical advisory board recommends Pap testing every one to three years for women age 65 and younger.

Promote awareness in your workplace: download free posters and find free/low-cost screening sites from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition

Thyroid Awareness Month

Gotta love the neck check! During thyroid awareness month, consider teaching a simple thyroid self-exam at a lunch-and-learn. All you need are some hand mirrors, glasses of water and this handy how-to. Most biometric screenings also offer a TSH test to check for over- or under-active thyroid hormone levels. If you’re doing biometric screenings to kick off your program this month, consider including some education materials about thyroid conditions. You’ll find free info sheets here.

Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world. Of the 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma — and half of them don’t even know it. Regular eye exams are important for detecting glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends eye exams every 2-4 years, every 1-3 years for those ages 40-54, and every 1-2 years for those over 55.

Those at higher risk for glaucoma should get an exam every 2 years. Employees can take an online glaucoma risk assessment here. A helpful description of various screening tests for glaucoma (including the dreaded puff test!) available here.

National Blood Donor Month

This one isn’t screening related, but we think it’s actionable nonetheless.

Blood supplies tend to run critically low in the winter months, and in January especially. Consider hosting a workplace blood drive to help out. The American Red Cross does pretty much everything — all you need to do is provide a space and help recruit donors. Get started here.