While modern medicine can do amazing things to heal illnesses and injuries, the old adage is still true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Preventative health care is, at its core, all about maintaining good health and taking action to avoid future illness or disease. It starts with regular visits to your primary care physician to identify any underlying issues. You can also seek out additional preventative care measures from a specialist.
Why is Preventative Medicine Important?
Chronic illness takes a huge toll on Canadians. In fact, three out of five Canadians over age 20 live with a preventable chronic disease, and these diseases account for 65% of all deaths in this country. The encouraging news is that these illnesses, which include cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, some cancers, and diabetes, are not inevitable.
And chronic illness isn’t the only reason to stay ahead of the game when it comes to your health. A study found a link between happiness, health, and longevity. Any illness or injury can take time away from your enjoyment of life and your work. By keeping yourself in good health—and addressing any concerns immediately rather than waiting for them to worsen—you may be able to maintain an optimal quality of life for longer.
The Economic Burden
Chronic disease comes with a serious societal price tag. One estimate from the Public Health Agency of Canada put the cost at $190 billion annually, with $122 billion of that due to indirect productivity and income losses and the rest in direct health care costs.
When can Preventative Medicine be Used?
Preventative measures can happen before or after a chronic disease occurs.
- Primary Prevention is intervening before the disease occurs.
- Secondary Prevention means detecting and treating the disease at an early stage.
- Tertiary Prevention refers to managing the disease to slow or even stop its progress.
These approaches can be medical in nature or lifestyle changes.
What Kinds of Preventative Medicine Treatments Exist?
If you’re already seeing your primary care physician regularly, you may have already received some basic preventative help, like advice on following Canada’s Food Guide and how to safely exercise.
Here are some preventative health treatments you can seek out.
Nutrition & Weight Loss Consultation
Unhealthy weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Healthy weight control can be a challenging task to tackle on your own. Plus, it can get even more complicated thanks to the link between mental health and weight.
Doctor-assisted weight loss can lead to sustainable long-term success and the development of positive eating habits.
Reducing Chronic Pain
Chronic pain isn’t inevitable, but it can be a complex problem to solve. Therapeutic treatments chosen for your particular needs and your lifestyle can help you regain quality of life and avoid relying on pain medication.
Sleep is so key to optimal health: it helps us fight off infection and recover from illness. And long-term sleep issues can also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. If you’re not sleeping well, whether due to snoring, sleep apnea, or other sleep disorders, there’s help available.
Hormones can fluctuate throughout your life, but when something goes wrong, they can affect your weight, mood, fertility, skin, and more. With diagnostic testing, these hormonal imbalances can be identified and a custom treatment approach can be developed to get you back to feeling like yourself.
Women’s Health Concerns
Urinary incontinence is extremely common among women. One study found nearly half of participants had experienced some amount of leaking, and yet most of those women didn’t receive treatment.
Urinary incontinence isn’t a normal part of aging and it doesn’t have to be part of your life. Non-invasive treatment for this and other women’s health conditions can make a significant improvement to quality of life.
Help Quitting Smoking
Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in Canada. Quitting on your own can be really tough, but your physician can give you the tools to do it successfully. Within weeks of quitting, your circulation and lung function will improve and just one year out, your risk of coronary heart disease is about half that of a smoker’s.
Wearing sunblock is one of the best things you can do to lower your risk of skin cancer. In addition to slathering on the SPF, be sure to talk about any skin changes with your doctor. They may be able to diagnose a benign or malignant skin lesion or refer you to a specialist who can help you further.
Take Action on Your Health
By being proactive about your health, you may be able to avoid the chronic health conditions affecting millions of Canadians and improve your quality of life.