The golden rule is healthy eating, being physically active, no smoking, no harmful use of alcohol, or drugs including abusing prescription drugs. Stress management and healthy sexual and reproductive are equally important. With the exception of the genetic (an abnormality which affects the genes) and hereditary (an illness which is passed from parent to children) diseases, we can prevent or even delay the development of diseases. Many diseases can be prevented by avoiding or minimizing the aforementioned risky behaviors.
Prevention or Preventive Medicine takes account of measures to prevent illness and injury. There are three (3) distinct levels; the Primary level is solely about prevention, the Secondary and Tertiary levels are curative interventions, that is, arresting further deterioration of a medical condition.
Primary Prevention: “Prevention is better than cure”
The promotion of healthy habits and practices must be a significant investment by individuals, families, communities and governments. The promotion of healthy lifestyle is for both infectious and chronic diseases. The best measure to prevent infectious diseases such as the cold and flu is proper and frequent hand washing.With respect to babies,breast feeding,is nature’s way of ensuring babies have protection from several childhood infections and diseases.
- Nutrition: eat more fruits and vegetables. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.
- Physical Activity: keep active, walk more and drive less when this is practical.
- Tobacco and Alcohol: do not develop these habits; they are addictive, deleterious to health and difficult to treat.
- Screening tests: check with your primary physician about the test that you need to do and at what age.
- Immunization: ensure children are fully immunized for their age. Adults need to have certain adult immunizations such as hepatitis B.
- Sexual and Reproductive Health: do not delay to consult if there are concerns. Sexually transmitted infections must never be ignored.
- Mental Wellness: it is not taboo to see a therapist, doctor, or pastor if you are having emotional struggles. It is actually the best thing you can do for yourself and loved ones.
- Dental/Oral Health: there is now evidence that poor oral health can contribute to heart disease. It is recommended to change your toothbrush every 3 months. Visit the dentist at least once a year but some do advise that it should be twice yearly.
Secondary Prevention: “A stitch in time saves nine”
Once you have an illness or disease, it is important to havethe appropriate, early care to prevent life-threatening complications.
- There are some acute symptoms that warrant an urgent doctor’s visit, such as chest and abdominal pains, fever with a sore throat, joint pains with fever, frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, shortness of breath with fever or chest pain.
- Persons living with a chronic disease such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and asthma, need to visit their physician at least every 2-3 months to ensure the condition is well controlled.
- Take your medications as prescribe and report any significant side effects.
Tertiary Prevention: “You may be down but not out”
Having a disability as a result of a disease still requires careful attention to one’s health. So, in the case where one’s leg has been amputated due to diabetic complications or in the instance where one had a stroke resulting from cardiovascular complications, tertiary prevention measures are taken to prevent further complications including an even greater disability.
Apply those tips given for secondary prevention, in addition to these:
- Ask about rehabilitation services
- Allow family and friends to assist you as you work to regain improved function
- Be patient with yourself as you will feel impatient and perhaps depressed having lost your independence (although it could only be temporary).