If you’re a farmer or rancher, you’ve likely got a lot on your mind. One of the most important things — that often gets put on the back-burner — is making sure you’re in good health. As someone who spends nearly every day outside in the elements, you need to give your body the care and attention it deserves. Follow this complete health checkup guide to make sure you’re protecting yourself — and don’t forget to schedule a routine health checkup with your doctor.
Skin: Beware of UV Rays and New Moles
Unlike other professions, your job grants you the joy of working in the great outdoors, but unfortunately that also increases your risk for developing skin cancer. Reduce your UV exposure by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen, and examine your skin for any new moles or growths. And don’t forget to review existing moles for the ABCDEs of melanoma. Talk to your dermatologist or primary care physician about any herbicides or pesticides you are exposed to, because they can pose skin cancer risks as well.
Lungs: Protect Against Pollutants and Dust
Along with all the fresh air, farmers and ranchers also breathe in irritants from exposure to animals, chemicals, and agricultural dust. Long-term, this can lead to respiratory diseases like asthma, chronic bronchitis, COPD, and even lung cancer. You can protect your airways by wearing proper facial masks when necessary. And pay close attention to your health in the winter and early spring when cold and flu season run rampant, which can leave you with a cough. Talk to your doctor if your cough persists or you have unexplained shortness of breath.
Muscles and Joints: Avoid Wear and Tear
You’re no stranger to hard work, and that’s why you might ignore an ache or pain and soldier on. But if you have nagging soreness anywhere in your body, it’s time to get it checked out. More labor could aggravate your condition and sideline you when it’s least convenient. You wouldn’t want to be down and out during harvest season. Talk to your primary care physician about any discomfort so they can recommend a treatment plan that will keep you up and running.
Eyes: Prevent Squinting-Related Strain
You depend on your eyes for nearly every aspect of your business — to operate machinery safely or to tell you when your crops need some extra attention. So if you’ve noticed yourself squinting a lot lately or holding the newspaper a little closer to your face, it’s time for an eye exam. Repeated eye strain could lead to headaches and other issues.
Ears: Reduce Exposure to Loud Noises
Some of the loudest noises on a farm or ranch include grain equipment, tractors and chainsaws. If you’re around these sounds often, you could be at risk for premature hearing loss. Use ear protection whenever necessary. If you’re straining to hear people’s natural speaking voices, you might be due for a hearing test.
Mind: Address Stress, Anxiety and Depression
When your livelihood depends on factors that are out of your control, like the weather or the economy, life can be stressful. And a complete health checkup wouldn’t be, well, complete without addressing your mental health. The harsh realities of farming and ranching can bring on symptoms of anxiety and depression. A Journal of Rural Health study reports that agricultural workers have higher suicide rates when compared to the rates of other workers. If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, seek help from a mental health professional in your community immediately. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Safeguard Your Loved Ones and Your Farm
Make sure your family and property are protected. Talk to your Farm Bureau agent today about the benefits of life insurance. Your farm’s health is important, too, so chat with your Farm Bureau agent to ensure your farm or ranch has the protection it needs.