Why Preventive Care Is Important
Most people avoid going to the doctor unless they have to, even when that means they ultimately end up sick or hurt to get there. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best way to take care of your health. Preventive care is crucial in helping you stay healthy. Simply going to the doctor for your yearly checkup and not waiting until your minor issues become big problems are both forms of preventive care that can help your health in the long run. Preventive care helps reduce the risk of dangerous diseases, disabilities, and even death.
What Is Considered Preventive Care?
Preventive care is considered what you do “before” you get sick or hurt or what you do to try to avoid it. There are multiple kinds of preventive care, some as simple as going to your physician for your yearly checkup. Preventive care services are important for people of all ages, helping to keep them healthy and identify any health issues in their early stages. Mammograms, cancer screenings, and immunizations are all forms of preventive care that work to identify different kinds of health issues before they become serious.
But, preventive care is more than just checkups or screenings for potential physical problems. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) emphasizes that preventive care can work in the realm of behavioral health, mental health, and substance use disorders, too. Developing strong social and life skills to manage substance use. Both mental and behavioral health can be worked on with preventive measures to help them from getting worse and make them much more manageable.
The Benefits of Preventive Care
Preventive care has a multitude of benefits, including:
1. Early Detection of Disease, Illness, and Other Potential Health Issues
One of the biggest reasons preventive health care is critical is that it can identify dangerous diseases and other potentially harmful health issues early. With early detection of diseases, illnesses, and other health issues, you can combat them when they are most treatable. For example, with regular cancer screenings, you will find any signs of cancer in much earlier stages than if you were to go untested and eventually feel symptoms. Preventive health care also aids in genetic health issues like high cholesterol and blood pressure, allowing you to stay on top of your health by identifying problems early.
2. Improves Long-Term Health
Preventive care helps improve your long-term health by keeping up with it. Without going to the doctor or having your yearly checkup, there’s no way to know if anything is changing or wrong in the first place. For example, if you go to your doctor regularly, they can identify an increase in your blood pressure and help you work on lowering it before it becomes problematic. In addition, routinely going to the doctor, early detection of diseases, cancer screenings, and immunizations all help to improve your overall long-term health.
3. Helps In Recovery
On top of preventive care keeping you physically healthy, it works to keep you mentally healthy, too. For those with substance use disorders and those in recovery, preventive care methods can help keep you working toward your goals and feeling great. By practicing behaviors that support a healthy you, understanding and managing your mental health, and having a hopeful outlook, you can use preventive care to work on your mental and behavioral health on the road to recovery.
4. Low Cost
Because preventive care is beneficial for everyone, it’s offered at little to no cost for most people with insurance. It’s a great way to keep your medical costs lower in the future, too. When you detect issues early and start treatment quickly or work on them before they are problematic versus waiting until something happens and then seeking emergency medical attention, you can save a great deal of money. Practicing preventive health care is much cheaper than reactive health care.
What Are Some Examples of Preventive Care?
Preventive care comes in multiple forms:
1. Cancer Screenings
Cancer screenings are one of the primary forms of preventive health. Cancer is a dangerous disease that is also genetic, so it’s crucial to take extra caution when you know it may be in your family. Getting tested for cancer regularly will help ensure that you will catch it when it’s most treatable. There are a variety of cancer screening tests depending on what is being looked at. Your primary physician will be able to direct you to which ones they think are best for you and your situation.
2. Routine Check-Ups/Wellness Exams
Wellness exams, commonly known as physicals, are a great way to practice preventive care for people of all ages. Yearly physicals for both children and adults are essential in ensuring that their bodies’ are working correctly. They’re also a great tool to analyze a person’s health over the years and identify any changes that require attention. For example, wellness exams can make sure that children are growing correctly and be able to identify problematic changes in their health. A wellness exam is also an excellent opportunity for you to bring up any health concerns with your physician or have some basic tests done.
3. Mental Health Screenings
Mental health screenings are just as important as physical health screenings, as mental health plays an immense role in a person’s overall health. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are difficult to manage, especially without the proper care and support. Performing mental health screenings help identify problems early and help you or your loved ones manage a mental illness. Depending on the situation, mental health can be assessed in various ways, such as through a physician or a questionnaire.
Immunizations are one of the most well-known forms of preventive care. Nowadays, immunizations are given at early ages. In addition, vaccines for diseases such as shingles, measles, or hepatitis A, are required for most children when going to school. Immunizations are proven to be highly effective, which is why they are recommended for people of all ages.
5. Blood Pressure / Cholesterol Checks
Having your blood pressure or cholesterol tested is another simple form of preventive care. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are often genetic, giving many people a good reason to get them regularly checked out. Routine checkups on your blood pressure and cholesterol also allow your physician to quickly identify any changes that could result from a health issue.
6. Diabetes Screenings
Preventive diabetes screenings are available for those who may show symptoms or have a genetic link to diabetes. However, both prediabetes and diabetes can be incredibly dangerous when not managed properly, which is why it’s crucial to get tested, even if it’s not genetic. There are multiple kinds of diabetes tests such as glucose tolerance tests, glucose level tests, and random blood sugar tests, all of which can tell you how your body processes sugar.
7. STI Tests
Getting tested for STIs and STDs is a form of preventive care that can help more than just the person being tested. STI tests can protect both you and your partner by alerting you if you have a spreadable illness. Everyone who is sexually active should be screened for STIs and STDs regularly to stay safe and healthy.
Many people are unaware that counseling counts as a form of preventive health care. Whether that counseling is for mental illness, physical issues, or education, it is a primary method of preventive care because it can help prevent worsening mental, behavioral, or health problems. When those with depression or anxiety, for example, visit a counselor, they are working to improve and manage their mental health instead of letting it get to an unmanageable point. Counseling is a great way to practice preventive care for physical and mental health. It’s a great way to ensure you stay mindful.
9. Pap Smears
Pap smears are recommended for all women once they reach 21. They are another well-known form of preventive care that tests for multiple health issues at once. For example, pap smears can screen for anything from pre-cancers to cell changes within the cervix that can alert one to other dangerous health issues. In addition, pap smears identify various health issues that might otherwise be missed.
Colonoscopies are an essential method of preventive care once a person reaches the age of 50. They are a service that tests for precancers or colon cancer. By identifying these kinds of health problems early, they are much more treatable than if they were to be found in later stages. Colonoscopies are recommended every 10 or so years and are covered by insurance when they’re preventive.
Who Can Take Part in Preventive Care?
Preventive care is available for anyone, no matter their age or gender. It focuses on preventing and identifying problems early to keep people as healthy as possible. While preventive care may differ depending on factors such as age, it is open for all. Some examples of preventive care for differing groups include:
Preventive care for children may look a bit different than preventive care for an adult. As children grow, there are screening tests they may take to assess different aspects of their health. For example, at 18 to 24 months, most screening for autism takes place. As children hit each milestone age, they should have behavioral assessments done. These are forms of preventive care that you don’t see as much in adults.
While preventive care measures are similar for most adults, they do differentiate a bit between genders. For example, women require pap smears to keep up with their health and reproductive issues, while men do not. But, adults of any gender do require colonoscopies to be done once a certain age is reached, whereas children do not need these yet. Wellness is a lifelong journey; even those who overcome addiction, focus on long-term sobriety.
When to Get Preventive Care
The critical aspect of preventive care is not waiting until something is wrong to seek medical attention. Preventive care is done to help prevent illness rather than waiting for it to happen. Don’t hesitate to schedule your regular wellness exams or that yearly cancer screening. Practice routine care by going to the doctor regularly and catching issues while they are most treatable.
Practicing Preventive Care
Preventive care is crucial in helping you stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Stop waiting until you feel sick to go to the doctor; be proactive instead. By scheduling your routine checkups and screenings, you can stay on top of health issues before they become problematic.
Preventive care is the best way to reduce your risk of dangerous diseases, disabilities, and even death.
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