What is preventive health care?
Preventive health care is any medical treatment or test that you can have to prevent a health problem. Some of the most important preventive steps you can take are listed below.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle – People don’t tend to think of lifestyle changes as a form of “treatment.” But the truth is, lifestyle changes are often just as effective as, or even more effective than, any medicine you can take. If you exercise often, eat right, maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol, and avoid smoking, you are less likely to develop all sorts of health problems than people who do not have these habits.
- Get all of the right vaccines – Vaccines are shots that help protect you from certain diseases. They help prevent infections such as the flu and pneumonia.
- Get screened when screening might help – Screening refers to any test that looks for early signs of a disease before the disease has started causing symptoms or problems. The most well-known screening tests are the ones that check for cancer, but other screening tests also exist.
- Pap test to screen for cervix cancer from ages 21-65
- Pelvic exam to screen for uterine and ovarian cancer from ages 21-75
- Mammogram to screen for breast cancer from ages 40-75
- Colon cancer screening from ages 50-75; multiple options
- Women age 65 and older should get screened for osteoporosis (a bone thinning disorder).
- See your doctor regularly – During each visit, you will likely have several routine tests that are important in keeping track of your health. For instance, the doctor or nurse will probably check your blood pressure, body weight, and ask about your mood. He or she might also check your cholesterol level, depending on what other health issues you have. Plus, the doctor or nurse will review your medicines and might suggest stopping some that are less helpful and that can cause side effects as you get older.
- Planning your family – Fertility and childbearing is an important topic to discuss with your doctor on a regular basis. If you are preventing pregnancy, your doctor can explore appropriate birth control options with you. If you’re planning to get pregnant, your doctor can make recommendations on ways to make your pregnancy as healthy as possible.
What else can I do to stay as healthy as possible?
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels – Not being able to control your bladder or bowels is called being “incontinent.” If you have this problem, don’t be embarrassed to bring it up at the doctor’s office. Many treatments are available.
- Keep an up-to-date medicine list – Always bring your medicine list with you when you see the doctor or nurse. You can find an example of this kind of list at the following website: www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm079489.htm.
Tell your doctor if you are being hurt or don’t feel safe at home.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Nov 21, 2018.