Why Preventative Care Matters
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability with 6 in 10 American adults suffering from a chronic illness—including heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes, and other preventable health conditions. Fortunately, these types of chronic illnesses are preventable when they’re detected early on through routine tests and screenings.
Preventative care is defined as any medical service that detects or defends the body against health complications. This includes routine physicals, well-woman visits, dental cleanings, and medications like vaccines and contraceptives. Preventative care is meant to keep the body healthy and treat any conditions before they become chronic.
Building a Good Relationship with Your Doctor
Scheduling routine doctor visits can help you build a strong relationship with your primary care physician and can actually help with disease prevention and better treatment throughout your wellness journey.
Here’s how you can work towards a better relationship with your doctor and open the lines of communication:
- Find a doctor you’re comfortable with: As your first line of contact when you feel sick, it’s important that you feel like your concerns are valid and respected by your doctor.
- Keep up with regular visits: By sticking to your annual visits, you can begin to build a rapport with your doctor. The more they get to know you, what’s normal for your body, and your family history, the better they'll be able to assess and treat you.
- Bring your questions: Bring a list of questions, symptoms, and concerns with you to your appointment. Not only will it allow your doctor to be fully informed, but it will also show them that you are serious about working towards better health.
The Importance of Routine Screenings and Tests
For most critical illnesses and diseases, early detection and prevention are crucial. Staying on top of your age-appropriate annual screenings and tests is the best way to detect and prevent them from progressing.
Your age, medical history, lifestyle choices (i.e. smoking, drinking, physical activity, etc.), and other factors may influence how often you need to see a doctor and what kinds of screenings and tests need to be done.
Some conditions that require routine screenings and tests may include, but are not limited to:
Ways You Can Lower Your Risk of Developing a Chronic Illness
Preventative care extends beyond your doctor’s office. By making the following lifestyle changes, you can improve your overall health and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases and illnesses.
According to the American Heart Association, it’s recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Incorporating moderate exercises like walking, hiking, and gardening into your schedule can actually help you to prevent, delay the progression of, and manage chronic illnesses.
Rest and Destress
Stress can actually have a negative impact on your health. Activating your body’s stress response system, which releases cortisol and other hormones, for long periods of time can increase your risk of the following health issues:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Digestive issues
To help keep your stress and hormone levels regulated, try making these small changes:
- Sleep: Get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Breathe: Take moments to yourself to be still and take slow, deep breaths.
- Exercise: While this decreases other negative health effects, it also helps you to combat stress.
- Laugh: Laughing helps to relieve the body’s natural response to stress. It also helps to relax your muscles and relieve tension.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking cigarettes is responsible for about 20% of deaths in the United States each year. Vaping, although it is marketed as “safer” than cigarettes, can also lead to the development of various chronic illnesses.
It’s commonly thought that those who have been smoking for long periods of time will not see a difference if they nip their smoking habits in the bud. However, once you quit smoking, your body begins to reverse the damage caused by smoking almost immediately. The sooner you quit smoking, the more likely you are to lower your risk of developing smoking-related health complications that include but are not limited to:
- Mouth, throat, lung, and various other cancers
- High cholesterol
- Blood clotting
- Early menopause
- Erectile dysfunction
- Impaired sense of smell and taste
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Heavy alcohol consumption over time can lead to a multitude of chronic health conditions and mental health issues. Drinking excessively over long periods of time may increase your risk of developing some of the following health complications:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- High blood pressure
- Liver fibrosis
- Throat, mouth, larynx, breast, liver, colorectal, or esophageal cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Irregular heartbeat
Limiting alcohol consumption can lower your risk of developing these health conditions, however, it also comes with some other unexpected benefits:
- Increased energy
- Increased concentration
- Improved mental health
- Healthier appearance
By working with your team of healthcare providers and making small adjustments in your personal life, you can take the necessary steps to help lower your risks of developing chronic illnesses and other health complications.
Primary Care in Jackson, Wilson, and Teton County
From family medicine to internal medicine, our Primary Care Providers (PCP) are here to openly listen to your concerns and work with you to achieve overall better health and wellness. Visit our website to see the types of primary care we provide or to find a doctor, today!