Health & Wellness

Health Tips


Tobacco Cessation

Want to Quit Smoking or Kick the Tobacco Habit?
If you smoke or use tobacco, one of the best ways to get healthy is to quit. Tobacco use puts you at high risk for cancer, heart attack, stroke and even sexual problems. The risks are even greater if you have diabetes, you are overweight, or you have other health problems. 

A pregnant mom who smokes is also risking the health of her unborn baby. Studies show drugs, stop-smoking aids, counseling, support and habit changes can help you quit.

Take that First Step:

  • Decide to stop smoking and set a date.
  • Get support from family and friends.
  • Quit with a friend or partner.
  • Get help from your doctor.
  • Call Health Choice Arizona and Arizona Smoker’s Helpline (ASHLine) 800-556-6222 or visit ashline.org.
  • The ASHLine can give you free samples of stop-smoking aides. The ASHLine can also give you counseling and support to help you kick the habit.

In addition to the ASHLine, there are other resources available for you.

Take our interactive Smoking Habits Quiz for a profile of your nicotine dependence and some ideas about how to tame your cravings as you become a non-smoker.

Online Smoking Habits Quiz

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:
Smoking Habits Quiz

Source: Heatherton TF, Kozlowski LT, Frecker RC, Fagerstrom KO (1991). The Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence: a revision of the Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire. Br J Addict 86:1119-27.

For more information on quitting tobacco, go to Tobacco Free Arizona at:
www.azdhs.gov/prevention/tobacco-chronic-disease/tobacco-free-az/index.php.

Tobacco Free Arizona is a program to help Arizonans know the risks of tobacco use and resources for quitting.

We always want to help you get healthy. Health Choice Arizona also covers certain aids to help you quit if your doctor orders them. Ask your doctor for more information.

Call us and ask to talk with a Health Choice Arizona case manager for help quitting smoking.



Get Moving!

Physical activity is important for people of all ages. Being active can help you feel better physically and mentally, sleep better, and function better in your day to day life. You don’t have to join a gym to exercise. Making time to move more throughout your day can make a big difference. Small changes add up.

This interactive Get Moving Quiz can help you learn if you are moving enough to stay healthy at your age. Take it for personalized recommendations.

Online Get Moving Quiz

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:

Get Moving Quiz 0-5yo
Get Moving Quiz 6-17yo
Get Moving Quiz 18-64yo
Get Moving Quiz 65+

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/age-chart.html

Additional Self-Management Tools:

Use this Physical Activity Diary to keep track of how much you move.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Physical Activity Diary

The Move Your Way Activity Planner for Adults helps adults build a personalized weekly activity plan and offers tips for fitting activity into their daily routines.
https://health.gov/MoveYourWay/Activity-Planner/

The Move Your Way Parent Interactive Graphic helps parents identify time in their family’s daily routine for kids to get the recommended 60 minutes of activity.
https://health.gov/MoveYourWay/get-kids-active/

  1. Sources:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Physical Activity Age Chart, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/age-chart.html
  2. US Department of Health & Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition (2018) https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf


Eat Healthy

Eating foods full of nutrients fuels your body and mind. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, a healthy eating plan:

  • Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars
  • Stays within your daily calorie needs

The Start Simple app from the US Department of Agriculture can help you to plan your meals, pick simple daily food goals and see real-time progress. Try the app!
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/startsimpleapp

Choosing healthy drinks is one way to quickly improve your eating habits. Sugary drinks like soda and sweet tea can add many calories to your day if you choose them often. To work on making a change, start by tracking what you drink each day. The Drink Tracking Log can help. Simply print out the log and mark off the beverages you drink during the day. You can repeat this over several days or a week for a full picture of your habits. Consider sharing the log with your Primary Care Provider or Care Manager for help in setting goals.

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:
Drink Tracking Log

Once you complete the worksheet, try setting a goal for change. Here is an example.

What You Drink Now: You drink four drinks from the “Choose more often” column and four drinks from the “Choose less often” column each day.

Goal: Replace two of your “Choose less often” drinks with something from the “Choose more often” column.

For more information and tools on healthy eating, visit these sites:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). Provides a variety of nutrition-related educational materials. http://www.eatright.org

American Diabetes Association. An organization with the aim of leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes. http://www.diabetes.org

Foodsafety.gov. Provides access to government resources relating to food safety and nutrition. http://www.foodsafety.gov

App Source: US Department of Agriculture and Health & Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/current-dietary-guidelines/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines

Worksheet Source: Insel/Roth, Connect Core Concepts in Health, Sixteenth Edition © 2020 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Chapter 13.


Healthy Weight

Healthy weight means that your weight is in a range that is considered healthy for your age and height. Doctors use a measurement called a body mass index (BMI) to help determine if your weight is healthy. You can use this BMI Table from the National Institutes of Health to learn your BMI.

NIH BMI Table

To use this table, find the your height on the left side of the table. Move across to your weight in pounds. The number at the top of the column is the BMI at that height and weight. Pounds have been rounded off.
Source: National Institute of Health, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi_tbl.pdf

Or, use our BMI Calculator for Adults:

Online BMI Calculator

If you need assistance finding a Primary Care Provider to help you with your weight or any other health care need, please call the Health Choice Customer Service Line at 1-800-322-8670.

Underweight
Weighing less than you should can be caused by some serious diseases or illnesses. If you are losing weight without trying, you should see your doctor for a check-up. You should also see your doctor if you think you may have an eating disorder (see eating disorder information below). People who weigh less than they should may feel more tired than usual. They may be more likely to get serious infections and may take longer to heal if they are hurt or have surgery. Not having enough nutrients can affect your body in many ways.
What can you do if you are underweight?

  • Add healthy calories. Instead of eating junk food, choose foods that are rich in nutrients. This helps ensure that your body has as much nourishment as possible. Foods with healthy calories include nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Try almonds, sunflower seeds, fruit, or whole-grain toast.
  • Snack. Enjoy snacks with protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. Healthy snacks could be: crackers and hummus, fruit and peanut butter, or avocado on toast.
  • Eat small meals. If you have a low appetite, it can be hard to eat a full meal. Eating small meals throughout the day can help.
  • Build muscle. Strength-training can build muscle and help you gain healthy weight. Yoga and weightlifting are exercises that can help to build muscle. Talk to your doctor about your exercise plans before beginning any new exercise programs.

Overweight
Weighing more than you should can put you at risk for health problems. When you are overweight, you are more likely to have health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

What can you do if you are overweight?

  • Talk with your doctor about your weight. Your doctor may want to check some labs. It may be difficult to lose weight, and your doctor can help you find a plan that works for you.
  • Small changes can help. Try to eat more healthy foods and avoid “junk” foods. “Junk” foods such as potato chips, candy, fried foods, and soda have calories but not many vitamins and other nutrients that our bodies need. Eat more of the foods that have plenty of good nutrients and vitamins. Green leafy vegetables, lean proteins such as beans, chicken and fish, as well as fruits are all good for you. Drink water or unsweetened tea instead of sugary drinks.
  • Try to get into a habit of exercising. Start with walking, biking, or swimming 5 minutes a day and add a minute or two every day or every week. Make a goal of walking 30 minutes per day. Exercise with a friend. It will be more fun, and you will be more likely to stick with it.
  • See your behavioral health provider to help with stress, depression, anxiety, or other behavioral health conditions as these can make it harder to lose weight.
  • Take a Healthy Living (CDSMP) workshop to learn how to improve your health. For information, talk to your case manager or go to: www.azlwi.org
  • Ask your case manager about community resources near you. Some communities may offer walking programs, discount gym memberships, cooking classes, access to healthy foods, yoga classes and more.

Eating Disorders
There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa.

  • Anorexia nervosa. People with this disorder may have an intense fear of weight gain, even when they are underweight. They may diet or exercise too much or use other ways to lose weight.
  • Binge eating disorder. People with this disorder will eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time. Food may be eaten even if the person is not hungry or feels full.
  • Bulimia nervosa. A person with bulimia binge eats like those with binge eating disorder. In addition, they use different ways, such as vomiting or laxatives, to try and prevent weight gain. Many people with bulimia also have anorexia nervosa.

More Information:


Diabetes

Did you know diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the U.S.?
According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 1.6 million Americans have it. Type 1 diabetes is when the body doesn’t produce insulin. It occurs at every age, in people of every race, and every shape and size. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and occurs when your body doesn’t use insulin properly. Diabetes affects heart health and can also cause blindness, kidney failure, and amputations of feet and/or legs not related to accidents or injury.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst or hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Slowed healing of wounds

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent diabetes, or if you already have diabetes, to manage it so that you can lead a healthier life. Ways to prevent diabetes include:

  • Losing weight.
  • Eating healthier.
  • Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker.

If you have an increased risk of diabetes due to family history or if you’re overweight, you need to make diabetes prevention a priority. Fortunately, this can be as simple as eating healthier foods, and it’s easier than you think.

Take the first steps towards a healthier diet by adding more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and leaner meats to your shopping list and try to include them in most meals. In time it’ll get easier to eat more healthy foods, plus eating healthy foods will help you lose weight.

For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:

American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Breast Cancer

If you are a woman, you could be one of the one in eight women in the U.S. to get breast cancer.

There are many risk factors for breast cancer, but the most common risk is simply being a woman. Fortunately, current treatment can be very effective. In fact, the 5-year survival rate can be as high as 98% if breast cancer is detected early and confined to the breast.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following methods to help detect breast cancer early:

  • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years. Starting at age 40, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional every year.
  • Breast self-examination is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should learn about the benefits and limitations of breast self-examination. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.

Learn more about what you can do to help detect breast cancer early.

For more information about breast cancer, visit these websites:

American Cancer Society
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Well-Woman Preventative Care Services:

Did you know Health Choice covers well-woman preventative services?  Preventative services are meant to identify certain risk factors related to disease, behavioral health and the promotion of a healthy life.

A well-woman preventative visit includes a well exam including:

  • Physical Exam
  • Breast Exam
  • Pelvic Exam
  • Review of Immunizations, Screenings and Tests.

Your provider will be screening and counseling you on ways to improve your health and reduce your risk.

Some examples of screenings are:

  • Tobacco/substance use, abuse and/or dependency
  • Proper nutrition
  • Depression screening
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Family planning counseling
  • Physical Activity

It is very important that you get an annual well-woman preventative exam so that you identify any concerns early and get the care you need. There is no copayment or other charges for a well-woman exam. Health Choice Arizona provides transportation to well-woman appointments and can assist you in scheduling an appointment if needed. Please call Member Services for assistance.


High Blood Pressure

Do you know why high blood pressure is also called “The Silent Killer”?
Approximately one in three people in the U.S. have high blood pressure (or hypertension), that can lead to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with high blood pressure may have no symptoms. You may feel fine and not be aware that high blood pressure is damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. This is why high blood pressure is sometimes called “The Silent Killer.”

Because high blood pressure is such a dangerous condition, it’s vital to follow your physician’s course of treatment. This can include a variety of prescriptions and over the counter products, but also requires special attention to diet, sleeping habits, and of course, exercise.

The key is consistency. Get a plan from a doctor to manage your blood pressure, and stick to it.

In addition to your doctor’s recommendations, here are some ways to lower your blood pressure:

  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Eat foods that are low in sodium
  • Stay active.
  • Lose weight.

For more information about high blood pressure, visit these websites:

American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

Symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Mucus (sputum) production
  • Wheezing

It’s caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer and a variety of other conditions.

Here are some steps you can take to help prevent complications associated with COPD:

  • Quit smoking to help reduce your risk of heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Get an annual flu vaccination and regular vaccination against pneumococcal pneumonia to reduce your risk of or prevent some infections.
  • Talk to your doctor if you feel sad or helpless or think that you may be experiencing depression.

If you’re a longtime smoker, these simple statements may not seem so simple, especially if you’ve tried quitting — once, twice or many times before. But keep trying to quit. It’s critical to find a tobacco cessation program that can help you quit for good. It’s your best chance for reducing damage to your lungs.


Prenatal Care

Early and regular prenatal care is vital for both mother and baby.
Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others. Studies show that babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who receive prenatal care.

If you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, here are some important health tips:

  • See a doctor within the first 12 weeks of learning you are pregnant.
  • Expectant moms should gain a healthy amount of weight.
  • Quit smoking before you become pregnant.
  • You should not drink alcohol or use drugs while you are pregnant.
  • Get plenty of sleep and try to control your stress.
  • Incorporate regular, moderate intensity exercise weekly, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
  • Take steps to avoid illness like regular hand washing and getting your flu shot.

For more information about prenatal care and pregnancy, visit these websites:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Managing Stress

Stress is anything that activates or turns on your nervous system. Activation can be thought of as pressing the gas pedal of a car. Our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase; our pupils dilate; our digestion slows; blood moves to our arms and legs for quicker movement. Stress can help us respond to an emergency, like moving our car away from another one to avoid an accident. However, long-term stress is harmful and causes damage to our brain and body. Changes (like a divorce, moving to a new home, having a baby, or a change in job responsibilities) can lead to stress. The changes brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic are another example of possible stressors.

For an inventory of your stress level, take the interactive Life Change Quiz here.

Online Life Changes Quiz

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:
Life Changes Quiz

Source: T.H.Holmes and T.H. Rahe. “The Social Readjustment Rating Scale,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 11:213, 1967.

Stress can be managed to decrease its effects on your health. Practices that can be used to manage stress include:

Deep breathing
Meditating
Laughing
Smiling
Eating healthy foods to support a gut microbiome
Yoga, especially open chest poses
Orientation – allowing your eyes to wander and noticing what draws your attention
Singing
Humming
Dancing
Getting a massage
Connecting with friends and family, in person or over the phone or internet
Psychotherapy


Everyone feels sad or down from time to time. Depression is more than sadness. It is a mood disorder that can cause problems in your day to day life, low energy, tearfulness, sleeping problems, changes in your appetite, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. Many people experience depression, and there is help available. People with depression can feel better and live full, active lives.

This interactive quiz can screen for possible depression symptoms.

For adults:

Online Depression Screen

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:
Depression Screen for Adults

For adolescents (11-17 years old):
Depression Screen for  Adolescent

Source: Johnson JG, Harris ES, Spitzer RL, Williams JBW: The Patient Health Questionnaire for Adolescents: Validation of an instrument for the assessment of mental disorders among adolescent primary care patients. J Adolescent Health 30:196–204, 2002.

If you are feeling depressed, we still recommend a complete assessment by a behavioral health professional. Health Choice can connect you with a behavioral health professional for a complete assessment and treatment recommendations. Please call us at 1-800-322-8670.

If you are having an emotional crisis or know someone who is at risk of physical harm, hurting themselves or someone else, call the Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline immediately.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Hopelessness; feeling like there’s no way out
  • Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, mood swings
  • Feeling like there is no reason to live
  • Rage or anger
  • Engaging in risky activities without thinking
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

Call 911 if:

  • You are concerned about harming or hurting yourself or someone else
  • Thinking about killing yourself, or looking for ways to take your life
  • Talking about death, dying or suicide
  • You or someone else has overdosed

You are able to get crisis services, even if you are not Title 19/21 eligible (i.e., not eligible for AHCCCS) or determined to have a Serious Mental Illness. The Crisis Line connects people in crisis and their families and friends with information and qualified caring health care professionals. The Crisis Line is completely confidential and is open to anyone who needs help regardless of insurance. Crisis Services include:

  • Crisis Intervention Phone services, including a toll free number, available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week
  • Mobile Crisis Intervention services, available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week
  • 24-hour Crisis Observation/Stabilization services, including detoxification services; and as funding allows, up to 72 hours of additional crisis stabilization; and substance use-related crisis services, including follow-up services for stabilization.
REGIONAL CRISIS LINES INFORMATION PHONE NUMBERS
Maricopa County 1-800-631-1314 or 602-222-9444
Pima and Pinal County 1-866-495-6735
Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo, and Yavapai 1-877-756-4090


Not sure if alcohol is a problem for you? This quiz can help you decide whether you could benefit from an assessment by a behavioral health professional.

Online Alcohol Use Screen

Printable version, to complete on paper and share with your providers:
Alcohol Use Problems Screener

Source: CAGE Questionnaire. JA Ewing, “Detecting Alcoholism: The CAGE Questionaire.” JAMA 252: 1905‐1907, 1984.


Childhood Immunizations

Immunizations are one of the most important ways for you to protect your children and yourself from serious diseases and infections.
Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because of antibodies passed from their mothers. But this immunity only lasts a month to a year. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio.

If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. To be effective, vaccines must be given on a set schedule, beginning during the child’s first two years of life.

As a parent, you work to protect your child, and vaccines are a valuable tool in your ongoing efforts to keep your child healthy and safe. If you are not sure your child’s vaccines are up-to-date, call your child’s doctor to make sure.

For more information about childhood immunizations, visit these websites:

American Academy of Pediatrics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


UV Safety

Your risk of getting skin cancer is real. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer.
While some exposure to sunlight can be enjoyable, too much is dangerous, causing immediate effects like blistering sunburns, as well as longer-term problems like eye damage (such as age-related macular degeneration) and skin disorders/skin cancer.

Part of the sun’s energy that reaches us on earth is composed of rays of invisible ultraviolet (UV) light. When ultraviolet light rays (UVA and UVB) enter the skin or eye, they damage skin cells and can cause burns resulting in visible and invisible injuries.

When outdoors, follow these simple tips:

  • Avoid long exposure times to the sun.
  • Schedule and play outdoor activities before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Sit or play in the shade as much as possible.
  • Use SPF15 or higher sunscreen.
  • Cover up – wear a T-shirt, long pants and a hat.
  • Wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • When swimming, wear goggles to protect your eyes from the sun, chlorine and/or bacteria from ponds or lakes.
  • Talk to family and friends about sun protection.

For more information about UV safety, visit these websites:

American Academy of Dermatology


Safe Swimming Tips

Swimming is a great summer exercise activity, but along with it comes risks.
Chances are you and your loved ones will enjoy some water/pool time this summer, so it’s important to learn how to protect yourself, your family and your friends from germs found in contaminated water and also to prevent accidental drowning.

By keeping these basic precautions in mind, you can make swimming as safe as it is fun this summer!

  • Never take your eyes off small children near pools, streams or waterways.
  • Don’t swallow pool water; it can contain bacteria that can make you ill.
  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers. You can spread germs in the water and make other people sick.
  • Practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should take precautions, such as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) when around the water.
  • Watch out for the dangerous “too’s” – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
  • Set water safety rules for the whole family based on swimming abilities (for example, inexperienced swimmers should stay in water less than chest deep).
  • Learn CPR and insist that babysitters, grandparents and others who care for your child know CPR.

These are only a few tips for safe swimming. For more information, visit these websites:

American Red Cross
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Danger: Blood Lead Levels

Keep your child healthy: Be on the alert for high blood lead levels in your child.
Lead can be found in paint and in dust in homes built before 1978. Children may ingest lead through food or by putting toys that picked up lead from chipping paint into their mouth.

Even small amounts of lead in a child’s blood can cause problems with learning. They also can have a lower IQ. They often have reading and learning problems. Sometimes they are hyperactive. This is why it is important to know your child’s blood lead level.

All children should be tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age. Children 36-72 months of age who have never been tested should be tested as well. A small amount of blood from your child’s finger is tested. If the child’s blood lead level is high, the child will be check out a second time to monitor the level.

The Arizona Department of Health Services can look at your home and find lead problem areas. After representatives from the ADHS find out where the lead is in your home, they can help you reduce the risk in your home.

Help your child stay healthy by keeping an eye on their blood lead levels.

For more information, visit these websites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention