Daily hygiene, exercise, and a balanced diet are the keys to good health. But preventive healthcare is not limited to the body. The mind must be constantly stimulated with information and challenges, such as memory games, reading, and problem-solving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines healthy eating, physical activity, taking personal health precautions, managing stress, and seeing a healthcare provider as the baseline steps for a healthy life (www.cdc.gov). By following these guidelines for good health, you will become actively involved in preventive healthcare, which can reduce the number—and costs—of visits to your doctor or emergency room.
Of your three meals each day, breakfast should be the most substantial and dinner the lightest. This allows the body to properly digest and use this nutrition before you sleep, and prevents the body from storing it, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. The United States Department of Agriculture has developed a MyPlate guide for all the categories recommended for daily eating (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/).
Sleep is an important part of our health and wellness, and a major factor in preventive healthcare. Maintaining a consistent schedule for when you go to bed and wake up trains your body and results in a more restful, fulfilling night’s sleep. Adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, but teenagers and children need more sleep as part of their normal growth and development. Eating habits, exercise, and the quality of sleep are interconnected (see “Eating habits” and “Exercise” below). Studies show that eating just before sleeping prevents restful sleep, because your digestive system continues to work and process food.
Your healthcare provider should listen
When seeing any healthcare provider, make sure they understand the details related to your visit. Give them a full understanding of what you are feeling, for how long, and all the events leading up to your medical condition. The healthcare provider should always spend time asking you questions of this nature.
General health and wellness questions versus specific health issues
Although WebMD.com, itriagehealth.com, and many other excellent health-and-wellness resources are available to help you learn more about certain conditions, when an urgent or emergency health issue occurs, it is best to immediately seek professional medical treatment at an urgent care or emergency facility, depending on the severity of the situation. Biologically, every person is unique, so general treatment advice that can be found online cannot take into account individual factors, such as medication use and chronic conditions.
Taking a first-aid course is an excellent way to protect you and your family if a sudden event threatens your health. Being prepared and knowing the actions to take in a medical first-aid situation can affect the outcome of the situation, and provide precious minutes to provide help until you can get the individual to a medical facility for professional treatment. For example, if the signs of breathing distress occur, being trained in CPR and knowing how to administer it, along with having directions to the nearest emergency department, could save a life.
Understanding how urgent care works
Urgent care centers are health-and-wellness medical clinics that, along with your local doctor and emergency room, offer you and your family medical treatment when your condition is urgent, but not life-threatening. Urgent care centers can also address routine medical issues, such as physicals, chronic illnesses, and flu and other vaccine shots. The list of services provided by FastMed clinics is available on our website.
Keep emergency phone numbers handy
One in five Americans has a mobile phone, and although they are a great place to store your emergency phone numbers, it is important to have a hard copy prominently placed in your home, should you or your family members not have use of a mobile phone. Your refrigerator door, bulletin board, or another frequently used access point are great places to keep emergency phone numbers, including the local fire department, police, urgent care, ER, and poison control. If you don’t have a landline, prepare for the possibility of a mobile phone not being available in an emergency, and plan to go to a trusted neighbor’s home to call, or have a pay-as-you-go mobile phone stored in a convenient place in your home.
Your annual physical will give a superficial indication of your health and allow you and your doctor to discuss any other health-related concerns or questions. Changes in lifestyle, activities, and environment can change the state of your health from year to year. Your annual physical provides an opportunity to discuss any minor, but chronic, conditions and determine if they could become more serious, or whether treatment is needed.
Regular physical activity, specifically cardiovascular exercise, conditions and strengthens muscles. When muscles are not regularly challenged and used, muscular atrophy—the wasting away of muscle—occurs over time. Exercise also has other health-and-wellness benefits: it contributes to your body’s ability to regulate your hypothalamus, which controls hunger, fatigue, and the quality of your sleep. Exercise also has positive effects on body weight, the heart, and many other organs.