It can be difficult to make time for consistent doctor visits, especially when you don’t have any health complaints! However, a lot of health issues have subtle indicators, such as pre-cancerous cells or high blood pressure, before they fully develop into life-changing problems. In comparison, regular check-ups are a very small price to pay in the face of harmful diseases and their lasting consequences, not to mention the daunting cost of treatment. Join us as we review the basics of preventative care and learn what measures you can take to ensure the highest quality of life!
The Basics Of Preventative Care
Preventative care can be a complex, multi-faceted process, especially when you have several different health issues to follow-up on. Here’s a quick rundown of the fundamentals and what you can expect your doctor to address:
- Health screenings are tests designed to look for markers of a health condition or disease that there may be no symptoms for. They can help identify early-stage diseases that may be difficult to treat later on.
- Vaccines were created to bolster the natural immune system against viruses that could be deadly. Immunizations and boosters fall into this category as well as annual or seasonal vaccines, like the flu shot.
- Diet and exercise are easily overlooked, but just as important! Low physical activity can increase the odds of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Several forms of cancer are known to be influenced by diet as well. Eating a balanced diet combined with regular exercise can combat the odds, even for those who may be genetically inclined towards health complications.
- Proactive treatment. In the event a patient is already ill, it’s vitally important to follow the prescribed treatment plan in order to promote healing and minimize permanent damage.
- Therapy takes many forms. Physical therapy can be the foundation for healing injuries that may have long-term effects whereas occupational therapy can be used to mitigate immobility or muscle weakness. On the other hand, ABA therapy can be used to nurture healthy behaviors and choices whereas speech therapists are often consulted in early childhood to detect potential speech disorders that could complicate communication in later years.
Children and Adolescents
From infancy, the human immune system is designed to combat most harmful germs, but it won’t be able to fight off more powerful illnesses such as rotavirus or diphtheria, which require immediate medical attention. Immunizations are designed to prevent infants and children from being exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. For example, the Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for infants within 24 hours of being born (or even sooner, depending on the mother)! For a more detailed chart on vaccination information, check out our previous blog post as well as the CDC Immunization Schedule.
Besides the Hepatitis B vaccine, there may be a newborn screening process at the hospital or birthing center. This line of testing uses a few drops of blood to identify potential birth defects or conditions that may affect long-term health. Additionally, it’s common to be tested for hearing loss and congenital heart defects alongside this process.
Adults and Seniors
Upon entering adulthood, it’s normal that the vaccinations received during patients’ younger years start to lose their effectiveness. That’s why it is recommended to get booster shots at the appropriate age to avoid a lapse in protection from deadly diseases. These boosters are generally very similar to the original vaccine, if not exactly the same. Here is a brief list of booster shots to discuss with your physician:
- Seasonal influenza vaccine
- Td/Tdap vaccine (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
- HPV vaccine
- Shingles vaccine
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13)
- Covid-19 vaccine
Additionally, adulthood marks the beginning of regular check-ups with your primary physician for issues that are more likely to appear later in life. Depending on the age, the typical screening schedule may include a Body Mass Index (BMI) check, looking over the skin, a cholesterol check, blood pressure screening, eye and hearing exams as well as a full sexually transmitted disease panel.
For women, these screenings will also incorporate annual wellness exams at the gynecologist and proactive treatment for osteoporosis after the age of 65, whereas older men can expect more regular prostate exams and lipid screenings.
After the age 45, doctors may begin to discuss colonoscopies and screenings for other areas prone to cancerous cells. Having family medical history on file may also offer an opportunity for genetic testing, which can identify certain risk factors for developing certain diseases.
Therapy and Preventative Care
Physical therapy is not only for recovery, but also an important part of preventative health and wellness. Consulting a physical therapist to help establish health goals can make a huge difference in how the body will react to injury, illness and aging.
- Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy
Preventative care isn’t strictly a matter of physical health. Aside from adults, children on the autism spectrum can struggle with communication or have delicate sensory issues that make it difficult to meet certain milestones and develop at the same pace as their peers. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy can treat these issues and help a child feel more at ease by encouraging the development of healthy habits that will benefit them into adulthood.
- Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is generally utilized as a means of recovery and can be absolutely vital in the early-stages of a disease or condition that may cause lasting damage. Occupational therapists are known to work with schools to assist disabled students with their studies as well as work with older patients working to rehabilitate after stroke, injury or other causes.
- Speech Therapy
Many parents and teachers will seek the opinion of a speech therapist in early childhood if they suspect a voice or communication disorder. Early detection is paramount when it comes to correcting potential speech problems and can massively improve quality of life for the recipient.
Preventative care is one of the most important forms of healthcare you can invest your time into – beyond the personal security it offers, it creates a medical history for posterity as well. Regular check-ups and screenings are essential when it comes to planning for tomorrow or 10 years into the future. Don’t delay reaching out to your doctor for any health concerns, even ones that you aren’t certain of. Just remember, the key to preventative care is acting fast!