We often seek medical advice and treatment only after some injury or illness has disrupted our lives. Unfortunately, working to treat these conditions only after they have progressed to harmful stages is significantly more time-intensive and costly, and late-stage treatments may be ineffective against lasting damage.
Instead, itís important for people to maintain their health by preventing these conditions in the first place. Regular doctor visits, such as physical examinations, are some of the best ways to detect problematic health issues. At the very least, seeking out medical attention when you begin to notice symptoms can help doctors provide more effective treatment plans.
Here are some things to consider in order to get the most out of preventive healthcare services.
Understand Preventive Services
First, itís important to understand your options. Many people are unaware of the services available today. Regular wellness visits are one of the most common forms of preventive care, and you should aim to get a checkup at least once per year. During this examination, your doctor will check your height, weight, heart rate, and blood pressure, which can help them to assess your overall health.
Your doctor might also draw blood in order to check your cholesterol levels, which can predict your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will also check your glucose levels, which can help in assessing your risk for developing type II diabetes. Once your doctor has had a chance to review these results, they may recommend lifestyle changes related to your diet, the amount of exercise you get in a week, and other factors that could prevent serious conditions from developing.
Diving deeper, advances in genetic testing have allowed researchers and medical professionals to identify risk-factors for a vast number of conditions within larger populations. On an individual level, these tests could indicate genetic mutations, metabolic abnormalities, disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Huntingtonís disease, carrier diseases like sickle cell anemia, as well as your risk for certain types of cancer.
While it may not always be possible to fully prevent these conditions, especially those that are inherited, identifying them as soon as possible will help doctors to create an effective treatment plan.
Standard immunizations are another major form of preventive care. These include vaccines that protect against the flu, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, chicken pox, shingles, human papillomavirus, measles, meningitis, and mumps, among others. You may have been encouraged to receive many of these at certain ages in your life, and itís important to keep an accurate immunization record and speak with your doctor about receiving new doses of any of these.
Some tests may be recommended based on your age or gender. For example, women between the ages of 21 and 65 should have a cervical cancer screening at least once every three years. Depending on their age, women should also speak to their doctor about how often they should have a mammogram in order to check for breast cancer. As women get older, bone density screenings may also identify signs of osteoporosis.
You might also speak with your doctor about screenings related to alcohol and substance abuse, dietary habits, HIV, STDs, as well as mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Utilize New Technologies
Along with data from screenings, examinations, and blood tests, doctors and nurses now have an arsenal of healthcare technologies that help them to better assess and track their patientsí needs. Among the most useful technologies are mobile apps and wearable devices that allow medical professionals to monitor a patientís health related to particular conditions.
These can be helpful for providing ongoing treatment for chronic diseases. However, these devices can also help detect serious conditions before they develop to dangerous levels. Furthermore, the data collected by these devices also contributes to a larger understanding of public health needs. Over time, this will help doctors to identify new risk factors and improve treatment plans.
Even when we receive useful medical advice, itís not always easy to stick to a treatment plan in our daily lives. Fortunately, health-tracking devices can also remind patients when to take medications, reiterate doctorís instructions, and provide encouragement and educational resources about making positive lifestyle changes.
Telemedicine is another tool helping to improve access to medical attention. This could include consultations that take place over voice or video calls, through an online chat interface, email correspondence, and smartphone apps. These options allow more people to speak with specialists they might not have had access to, and it cuts down on the amount of time people need to spend in an actual hospital, which cuts down on medical costs for patients and healthcare facilities.
One of the greatest advantages of telemedicine options is the ability for at-risk populations to access medical attention more easily. This is especially true when a treatment facility or specialist happens to be far from where you live. For example, those who live in rural communities may need assistance in finding resources and services related to preventive healthcare, and telemedicine options may be the only way they can get the treatment they need.
For many, seeking medical help can be a daunting experience. People donít often look fondly upon going to the hospital, even if itís just for a checkup. However, avoiding wellness visits or waiting too long to seek advice about symptoms youíre having could cause you to suffer immediately and for a longer period of time. Donít wait until itís too late. Work with your doctor to identify and prevent harmful conditions before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your life.