According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) more than 100,000 lives could be saved each year if every person in the country received clinically recommended preventive care. Preventative care includes an array of health services such as patient counseling, check-ups, screenings and immunizations.
The purpose of preventive care is to prevent disease, illness and other health-related problems. It can also serve to identify early warning signs of illness when treatment is most likely to be effective.
In addition to the preventive care measures beneficial for everyone are ones beneficial to specific groups of people, such as women, pregnant women and children. In many cases, preventive care benefits may be provided for free, without any deductibles or copays. Below are discussed some of the most common, accessible and effective preventive care measures available, including immunizations, obesity screenings and diet counseling, tobacco-use screenings and cessation programs and adult diabetes screenings.
Immunizations in Preventative Care
Immunizations can protect children and adults alike from numerous dangerous and life-threatening diseases. Vaccines against these various illnesses contain dead or weakened germs of a particular disease in order to help the body’s immune system recognize the virus or germs and develop the ability to combat them. Before immunizations existed, the only way people could develop immunity to particular diseases was to acquire the disease and survive it. Getting immunized against contagious diseases does not only protect you, but it protects the people around you from catching the illness from you. Remember, not everyone in your community or family may be able to get particular immunizations due to factors like health condition or age.
Even if you were immunized as a child and got your annual flu shot, there still may be other reasons you need further immunizations. You may not have gotten every vaccine you needed as a child. You may have a compromised immune system and, therefore, require more immunizations than other people to help your body combat infections. You may need additional immunizations if you are pregnant, a man who has sex with other men, a smoker or have liver, lung or heart disease, diabetes or other serious health condition. There are specific vaccinations for seniors. You may need extra vaccinations too if you spend time with seniors, kids and infants, work in a health clinic, prison, hospital or school or travel outside of the country. Check your medical records and ask your doctor which immunizations you may still need.
Obesity Screenings and Diet Counseling
Obesity is a serious and increasing health crisis in America. Obesity occurs when the body’s fat stores are too excessive, as opposed to being overweight. Being obese increases your risk of developing arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and having a stroke. However, losing just five to 10 percent of your excess body fat can prevent or delay many of these illnesses. There are three classes of obesity, depending on your body mass index (BMI), an expression of the ratio between your weight and height. Body mass index is one popular screening tool for obesity or overweight, although it is not a determinant of body fat content and, therefore, of obesity. The more obese you are, the higher the health risks and the more important it is you find ways to lose weight, particularly body fat.
There are many risk factors for obesity, including the following:
- Medical issues
- Particular medications
- Poor sleep.
- Quitting tobacco
- Socio-economic factors
Poor diet is another significant risk factor for obesity and one that, unlike genetics, can be improved. Diet counseling is one popular method of improving a poor diet. Diet counseling is also a healthier and more effective alternative to popular fad diets, which are neither necessarily safe or sustainable, let alone effective. A diet counselor should educate you about nutrition and weight-related issues, including your eating behaviors and healthier modifications you can make to those behaviors. Diet counselors will also discuss the value of portion sizes, meal-planning and reading nutritional labels. Getting diet counseling can help you make sure you lose weight in a healthy fashion and keep it off. The benefits of preventive care in reference to weight loss including being and feeling healthy.
Tobacco Use Screenings and Cessation Programs
Approximately 2,300 people younger than 18 years of age smoke a cigarette for the first time every day. Around 3.9 million students in middle and high school regularly use a tobacco product of some sort, be it cigarettes, e-cigarettes or a hookah. Moreover, almost nine out of 10 adult smokers in the U.S. tried their first cigarette before 18 years of age. In the U.S., use of tobacco is the predominant cause of death, disability and preventable disease. Almost half-a-million adults in the U.S. experience premature death from smoking directly or being exposed to secondhand smoke. Causes of these deaths range largely between lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and other forms of cancer. Smoking also causes 16 million more American adults to be living with a severe illness. People who smoke cigarettes miss more hours and days of work, have more doctor’s visits and hospitalizations and die a decade sooner than people who do not smoke. The U.S. spends almost $170 billion on health care costs to treat illnesses related to adult tobacco use.
Tobacco use screenings are one of the preliminary methods of addressing this crisis by helping people identify their own addiction and lack of autonomy over smoking. By discovering your own ability, or lack thereof, to control your smoking, you can empower yourself on a path to regain control and make healthier decisions regarding tobacco use. A variety of smoking cessation methods and programs exist to aid in these efforts, including media and educational campaigns, helplines and nicotine replacement therapy.
Adult Diabetes Screenings
Diabetes is an illness involving how your body processes the blood sugar, glucose. There is more than one type of diabetes, although most people with the disease have type 2 diabetes, with around 27 million Americans diagnosed. Approximately 86 million more Americans have been diagnosed with prediabetes, a condition that could often lead to full-fledged type 2 diabetes if not controlled. However, nearly one-third of the Americans with diabetes are unaware of their condition. All adults should be screened for diabetes every three years starting at 45 years of age, especially if they are obese or overweight. If risk factors exist, then regular screening should occur even sooner. Blood sugar monitors do not diagnose diabetes, so you need a blood test from your doctor.