Most people go to the doctor when they feel sick, but many people don’t consider going to the doctor beforehand for preventative care or understand the various ways doing so can benefit their health. When patients schedule regular check-ups, this can allow doctors and nurses to help stop diseases before they start through the use of preventative medicine.
What is Preventive Medicine?
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Preventive medicine, also known as prophylaxis, is anticipating a disease and treating it before it occurs. Examples of preventive health treatments include educating patients on diet and exercise, providing immunizations, encouraging the intake of vitamins and supplements, and even prescribing certain medications. Small changes to a patient’s lifestyle can have a large impact on their health and save them from a preventable death caused by conditions like cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and other causes. A study conducted in 2007 by the Partnership for Prevention found that if 90 percent of patients used preventive medicine, up to 100,000 lives could be saved annually.
How Can a Disease Be Treated Before It Is Contracted?
There are many warning signs a doctor or nurse might observe during a regularly scheduled checkup or routine screenings/tests. Scheduling regular checkups, even if you feel healthy, allow Doctors to check for the earliest signs of heart disease (hypertension and high cholesterol), diabetes (hyperglycemia), sexually transmitted diseases (like HIV), certain cancers, and osteoporosis, among others. Genetic testing can also tell you if you are predisposed to certain cancers, genetic disorders, or other diseases. According to NurseTogether.com, there are three types of preventive care that can “treat” disease before it is contacted and help save lives.
The first step in disease prevention is the spread of knowledge. This work is primarily done by trained nurses and nurse practitioners, like those who get their degrees from Maryville University, who educate patients about the most beneficial health behaviors. This is not only done in the doctor’s office, but in your everyday life as well. If you’ve ever seen an advertisement suggesting you exercise or avoid smoking, this is an example of primary prevention.
This method of prevention is more patient-focused. Doctors and nurses analyze patients’ high risk factors and susceptibility to different diseases through screening. If a weakness is found, treatment begins to prevent the onset of the disease. Secondary prevention is also used to stop the spread of contagious diseases by testing whether a patient is infected or at a high risk of infection before symptoms appear.
Tertiary prevention is the focus of most of today’s medical care. Rather than preventing the disease before it occurs, tertiary prevention is when Doctors and Nurses are concerned with preventing the worsening of a disease that has already been diagnosed. The reason this type of care is so prevalent is because patients rarely seek out care until after they start showing symptoms of a condition.
How Nurses Help
Nurses typically interact more directly with patients, so they are often better equipped to provide fitting preventive care. New jobs for nurses in public health facilities, clinics, and schools give them even more opportunities to interact with patients when preventive care is most important. According to a study conducted by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, women are even starting to ask their OB/GYN or nurse midwife for primary preventive care, not just prevention of STDs and cervical cancer.
The majority of preventive care is the responsibility of the patient. Make sure to schedule regular checkups with the doctor. If a nurse advises you to exercise more, eat better, or quit smoking, it would be smart to take their advice. Doctors, Nurses, and other healthcare providers are looking out for your best interest so you can have a healthy and happy future.