As you jumpstart the new year, you might be thinking about possible resolutions to make. If you're determined to improve your overall health, learning more about the power of preventive healthcare is one resolution that's easy to keep. Practicing preventive healthcare can not only help you take control of your health, but also help reduce your risk for serious illnesses and enjoy a better quality of life. It's not difficult to take simple steps now that may prevent a serious health ordeal later on. Plus, many preventive screenings are covered at no cost under most insurance plans.
“With the changing landscape of healthcare, primary prevention has become the mainstay and future of medicine,” says Dr. Frank J. Ponce III, family medicine physician with HCA Houston Healthcare Southwest. “By identifying potential risks and medical problems early, we are better able to treat them and prevent negative outcomes.”
Here are some of the basic tenets of a preventive health mindset.
Visit your doctor annually
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of this summer, 4 in 10 U.S. adults reported avoiding medical care because of concerns related to COVID-19. Delaying care is never in your best interest, and routine checkups and screenings should be a key component of anyone's healthcare regimen. Visiting your doctor annually can not only help prevent you from becoming ill, but also provide you with a comfortable environment to discuss any health concerns you may have. Seeing a doctor is particularly important for those who may need help managing chronic conditions and other vulnerable populations.
Visit the CDC to learn more about seeing a doctor during COVID-19.
The benefits of preventive healthcare
Seeing your doctor regularly even if you feel fine is an important way to keep your health on track. Depending on your age, overall health, and family history, your provider may uncover something that warrants the need for monitoring or treatment – even if you have no symptoms. And in those cases, the sooner you and your doctor discuss next steps and develop a plan for your health, the better.
A few key benefits of preventive care include:
- Establishing a health baseline so that your doctor can easily recognize when you may have a problem.
- Developing a wellness plan for your physical and emotional health to help prevent health problems later in life.
- Preventing chronic conditions like heart disease that can result in disability and the limitation of daily activities.
- Receiving routine immunizations and vaccinations like flu and pneumonia shots to help you stay healthy.
Key preventive screenings
Some common preventive screenings that most adults should have include:
- Colonoscopies, mammograms and other cancer screenings.
- Blood pressure, cholesterol and other screenings for heart disease and stroke.
- Screenings for obesity and diabetes.
- Sexually transmitted infection screenings.
Anxiety and depression screenings and counseling.
Talk to your doctor about which screenings are appropriate for you. In many cases, your health insurance may cover the cost of preventive health services, including recommended screenings, vaccinations and counseling for various health conditions.
Don't put your health on hold – investing in yourself today is a vital way to enjoy a healthier tomorrow.