Data researchers estimate that only around 8% of Americans go for routine preventive screenings. Yet, getting preventive health care is well worth your time. The idea is that you can lower the risk of developing something serious.
So if you’re one of the 92% of Americans that doesn’t go for screenings, you should ask yourself why not? Having regular checkups means that you value your life and want to take care of yourself. Also, if you are responsible for family members, you owe it to them to keep yourself in the best condition possible to be there for them.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at how professionals carry out preventive health care, and how you can benefit from it. Read on to take control of your future health.
What Is Health Care in the Preventive Sense?
Health care in a regular sense is when you go to a medical professional because you have some sort of issue you want them to check out. The preventive variety of healthcare is when you go get checked out as a routine thing you do, even when you feel like you have no medical issues bothering you at the time.
You also get recommendations from medical professionals about how to prevent any future problems. For instance, you could get checked out and your cholesterol is a little higher than average for your age. In this case, you may get recommendations to reduce your cholesterol, to prevent associated problems with higher cholesterol from bothering you.
Why Preventive Health Care Is the Way Forward
It’s a sad fact that chronic diseases are the leading causes of disability and death around the world. Such diseases increase the cost of healthcare.
It makes sense to try and prevent serious future problems by spending a little more money now than potentially huge amounts more if you get a chronic condition.
When to Start With Preventive Health Care?
Preventive health care can be a lifelong habit that you can learn from childhood all the way up to the later years. However, a good time to seriously think about this type of care is at least from your early 20s onwards.
Here are some habits you can start forming to create your own preventive health care routine:
- Use protection during sex
- Rest well and minimize stress
- Wear sunscreen in sunny weather
- Limit your alcohol intake to healthy amounts
- Cut down or quit smoking
- Maintain a healthy body weight for your size
- Avoid high-risk activities like extreme sports
Furthermore, to better prevent any health issues, go for routine visits to your doctor to get checked out (even if you feel healthy). When you get a checkup, you should expect the doctor to check your:
- Blood pressure
- Skin Health
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Cholesterol levels
It also could help to get blood tests done (blood work). Medical professionals can check your blood in the lab for any unusual signs. You might also want to get an HIV test, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you do at least once in your life.
In recent years, the medical world along with popular publications and news organizations have highlighted mental health concerns in society more than in the past. Many people may not have known that they are suffering from depression and anxiety until recent times when the information about such things is more readily available. Also, previous stigmas about mental issues have changed for the better.
So when you go for a checkup, it’s also important to talk about the state of your mental health with a doctor. If your doctor has concerns, they will be able to refer you to a specialist to talk to you further about any issues you might have.
Things You Can Ask Your Doctor
If you feel a little stumped about what to say to your doctor, don’t worry. Here are a few suggestions of what you can ask:
- Is my weight moderate for my height?
- Is there any chance of me developing any new health issues?
- Do you have any suggestions on how I could improve my health?
- Should I go for any particular screenings or get certain vaccines?
If you believe you have mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, you might also want to ask your doctor what you can do about it. A good doctor should first try to suggest things you can do without having to take any medication.
For example, they might suggest you exercise more to help you feel less depressed. If this works for you, it is surely a better solution than taking pills to solve the problem.
Health Screening Options
There are a few screening tests available today that can help doctors check for common diseases. It is worth your time and effort to think about all of the screening tests we will mention now and others that you might discover through research.
However, you might be wondering: what is a screening test? Well, medical professionals carry out screening tests to detect diseases or potential health disorders in the future. The earlier you find out about any issues you have or could potentially develop, the easier it may be to prevent the issue from becoming more serious.
Here are a number of screening tests for you to consider:
1. Cholesterol Tests
It’s a good idea for people of any age to have a professional measure their cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance that you have throughout your body.
Cholesterol does some good things in the body like helping you to produce vitamin D, certain hormones, and cell membranes. However, when you have too much of it in your body, it can be a health concern.
In reality, you produce all the cholesterol you need from your liver. The issue is that many foods that people eat have cholesterol in them. Also, there are what are deemed “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.”
To get your cholesterol measured, you go for a blood test. A medical professional will then check your cholesterol levels. They will provide you with an overall level along with the levels of good and bad cholesterol in your body.
When you have too much cholesterol in your body, there may be more risk of you getting cardiovascular disease (CVD). You should also realize, however, that cholesterol levels are not the only indicator for this type of disease. In some cases, people may suffer from CVD while having normal cholesterol levels.
2. Fecal Occult Blood Tests
A fecal occult blood test involves a specialist taking a sample of your stool to check for blood (hemoglobin). They do this using microscopic analysis.
The idea is to find out whether a person has some kind of cancerous growth. Blood in a person’s stool is a good indicator of this.
Testers require 3 stool samples from the person they are testing. If you do have blood in your stool, it might not be the case you have a cancerous growth, as there are other medical issues that can cause this. It’s typical for people over 50 to get such tests routinely.
3. Pap Tests
Pap tests are for females to check if they have cervical cancer. Medical professionals and institutions may recommend that sexually active women below the age of 65 should take a pap test (sometimes known as a pap smear).
The medical professional will use a vaginal spectrum to open your vaginal walls so they can access your cervix. They then take the pap smear, where they scrap off cells for testing.
This test should not hurt. However, some women may feel a little uncomfortable with the process.
4. Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Screenings
A PSA screening is a blood test where a specialist will check your prostate-specific antigen levels. An antigen is a substance in the body that triggers your immune system. Thus, it makes sense if your PSA levels are high that your immune system is attempting to fix a problem with your prostate (potentially prostate cancer).
Be aware that some medical institutions might recommend this sort of test while others won’t. It’s down to you to read up on any current literature about the matter and then make an informed decision about it for yourself.
Mammography is screening for breast cancer. Women can check for this at any adult age. However, medical professionals will tend to recommend this screening for women over 50. At this age, a doctor might say that you should have a screening every one to two years as a preventive measure.
Specialists will use a machine called a mammogram to analyze your breast tissue. The machine uses X-rays to do this analysis.
These X-rays are not the typical ones that doctors use to check for broken bones and other issues, for example. Instead, the X-rays they use are weaker but effective tools for trying to discover breast cancer.
To check for colon cancer, you can get a colonoscopy. The procedure involves the doctor inserting a colonoscope up your anus into your rectum and colon. This tool will inflate the large intestine so that the specialist can gain a proper view of the organ.
The doctor will then inspect your large intestine and look for any signs of colon cancer. They use a special monitor to do this. A good time to start getting this type of screening is 50 years and older.
7. Glucose Screening Tests
The ADA (American Diabetes Association) says that people should start to get screenings for diabetes and pre-diabetes from the age of 45. They say you should do this whatever your weight is. If you are younger than this, overweight, and showing symptoms of diabetes, it’s a good idea to get a screening.
To do a glucose screening test, you will first drink a glucose-rich liquid and wait for one hour. After that hour, you will then get a blood test. The sugar levels in your blood will indicate certain things to the doctor, such as whether you may have diabetes or not.
For older or disabled patients that can get out of their homes, mobile phlebotomy can be very useful for them. Mobile phlebotomy involves a phlebotomist coming to where you live to get blood samples.
There are mobile phlebotomists available all around the country. Here is an example of such a service in Dallas: https://phlebotomynetwork.com/mobile-phlebotomy-dallas/
Vaccines to Consider
Now that we’ve run through some screenings and tests you can take to help detect and prevent common diseases, let’s now take a look at some vaccinations you might want to consider.
We recommend you do as much research from varied sources on any vaccine you are thinking about taking. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about their knowledge of particular vaccines.
One of the most common vaccines that people have is the DPT vaccine. It is a vaccine to prevent you from getting tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pertussis is commonly known as whooping cough.
Some adults may not have had this vaccine in their childhood. If this is the case, many believe it is a good idea to get the jab. In general, anyone might want to get a booster every 5-10 years or so, if they have any bad wounds.
The HPV vaccine is one that can protect you from genital warts. It can also help to prevent you from getting particular cancers that are associated with genital warts.
It is a vaccine that teenagers and young adults should think about getting, yet an adult of any age may want to consider it too. Ideally, it’s a good vaccine to get before you become sexually active.
The MMR vaccine protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella. If you are a teenager that has no signs of immunity against these diseases, then you might consider getting the MMR vaccine.
Of course, ensure you read as much literature on this vaccine. Here you can check out some CDC info on the subject.
Preventive Health Care Is the Way Forward
Preventive health care is all about you taking care of yourself through various measures so that you have fewer chances of developing any serious diseases. There are various habits you can form without the need for a medical professional to aid you in your preventive health journey. You may also want to think about different screenings and vaccinations too.
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