An estimated 10 million American adults miss work due to health problems each year [source: School Network for Absenteeism Prevention]. Despite our best efforts, many of us will be a part of that statistic from time to time, but we can do a few easy things to prevent it. It all starts with good personal hygiene. Not only does good hygiene help us stay clean and smelling fresh -- from head to toe, tooth to nail -- but it can also help us stay healthy and lower our risk of infection and disease.
Let's talk basics: showers and toothbrushing. Do these two things frequently, and you're on your way to eliminating a variety of health problems. First, let's look at why keeping your skin clean is important.
Frequent showering helps to remove not only the dirt you can see on your skin, but also bacteria, sweat and waste products that, if allowed to remain, may increase your risk of developing body odor or worse, infection. We have an abundance of naturally present bacteria living on our skin, but when bacteria, fungus or viruses are allowed to flourish, there's an increased risk of skin infections, including conditions such as staphylococcus (as well as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also called MRSA), athlete's foot and molluscum contagiosm. Lazy hygiene may also increase your risk of becoming host to parasites such as ringworm, pinworms and roundworms.
A clean body is just one step, though. Keeping your mouth clean may also help prevent more than bad breath. Studies have found a link between oral health and heart health. Surprised? The relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease is unclear, but the leading theory suggests that the link lies with the problem of inflammation in our bodies. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection in our gums, which over time can lead to an inflammatory response by our body. Coronary artery disease is caused by chronic inflammation, a condition that's also linked to allergies, rheumatoid arthritis and other degenerative disorders.
People with periodontal disease have a 19 percent greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future (and the relative risk is 44 percent greater if you're younger than 65) [source: de Oliveira]. Regular toothbrushing (at least twice a day) and daily flossing can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, which will reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease and help your heart.
Check out the next page for lots more information about men's health problems and hygiene.