In the grand scheme of things, Houstonians don’t fare too badly health-wise when compared to the rest of the United States. There are some areas however, where we don’t do so well, and it’s in these areas that Houstonians face the biggest health threats:
Lack of Health Insurance — Ranks 50th
Not having health insurance is arguably the biggest health threat that we face in Texas, including in Houston. There are all kinds of reasons why people don’t get insured ranging from genuine financial restrictions (there is help available for people on very low incomes) to a reluctance to part with money when they are in good health.
However, waiting until a health problem occurs before seeking insurance is a sure way of bumping up the premiums.
People also make mistakes when it comes to choosing health plans, often because they don’t understand their options. There are basically two ways to pay for health care: either by paying up front with a higher premium, or by paying later, following treatment, through a higher co-payment. If you have opted for lower premiums upfront, then fall ill or have an accident that means you need expensive ongoing treatment, there’s a risk of not affording the co-payment cost. By law you’re entitled to a Summary of Benefits and Coverage that outlines the choices available to you.
While a lack of health insurance isn’t a medical condition in itself, the fact that many without insurance don’t seek timely help when they’re ill often results in a worsening of the condition which eventually prompts them to seek urgent medical care.
Obesity — Ranks 40th
Obesity has risen across the US in recent years, but for people in Texas it seems more of a problem. Texas ranks 40th out of all the states, making us one of the most obese regions.
Obesity brings with it all kinds of health problems, from the cardiovascular to breathing difficulties and diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and some cancers.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious risk for obese people, with complications that can regularly take them to the emergency room. Ways to combat type 2 diabetes include losing weight and becoming more physically active, which can help reduce blood sugar levels.
Lack of Exercise — Ranks 43rd
Ranking 43rd in the nation, there is much we can do to improve the amount of exercise we get. Not moving around enough is a major contributing factor in weight gain, along with unhealthy diets containing too much fat and sugar.
For many, lifestyle is a major obstacle with more of us than ever having sedentary jobs. We go from car to office chair to TV dinners then into bed. And it’s not as easy as simply telling people to exercise more, although for those with the discipline and will to do so the benefits are huge. There is plenty of opportunity in Houston too, as we are blessed with numerous good gyms with professional, trained instructors able to put together personalized fitness plans.
Air Pollution — Ranks 42nd
Air pollution will be found in any densely populated area that is also industry heavy, and Houston ranks quite highly in this area.
Asthma is a major concern, bringing many hundreds of people to the emergency room every year. The humidity in Houston plays a big part, and is something we can’t change. Individually, we can also do little about other air quality issues, such the high levels of particulate matter that’s found in urban areas, or higher levels of poverty that have also been blamed for higher asthma rates.
Low Child Immunization rates — Ranks 48th
Just why Texas has such a low rate of child immunization, we don’t know, but at 48th it’s almost last on the national scale. Not immunizing children against common diseases leaves them more vulnerable when outbreaks occur, and they’ll likely carry this vulnerability into adulthood.
Immunizing children also helps prevent outbreaks from spreading, since the more children who have a resistance the less chance there is of them infecting others. According to the World Health Organization, only clean water has a greater effect on the health of the general population.
Chlamydia — Ranks 41st
Chlamydia is, in fact, the most common reported sexually transmitted disease in the USA, infecting over two million women every year. Having no outward symptoms, it’s estimated that just as many might be living with the disease without realizing it.
It can cause infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also result in ectopic pregnancy, and in cases where the woman caught the disease during pregnancy it can be passed to the child during a normal vaginal delivery. Men can also get chlamydia, although the complications are far less severe. It’s recommended that all sexually active people are screened for the disease, because treatment is easy, safe and effective.
While these health problems may seem scary to many Houstonians, most are preventable. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, SignatureCare Emergency Center is always here to help.