Preventive Health Care Resources

Preventive health care is a crucial part of reducing your risk for chronic illnesses and catching an illness early when it is most responsive to treatment.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of preventive health care resources that may be available to you. There are a variety of preventive care measures that you can perform at home, but perhaps the most important ones are getting enough sleep, engaging in an exercise routine and monitoring your diet. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the benefits of self-examinations for breast and testicular cancer, the benefits of monitoring your blood pressure and the benefits of learning how to better manage stress. Preventive dental care is also a crucial part of your overall health as poor oral hygiene has been linked to a number of chronic health conditions. Finally, it is important to know about how you can obtain preventive health care services for free or at a reduced cost whether or not you have health insurance. To learn more about the preventive health care resources available to you, review the sections that have been provided below.

Preventive Care Measures You Can Perform at Home

If you would like to improve your overall health, there are a number of ways that you can do so including getting enough sleep each night, engaging in a routine exercise routine and eating a balance diet. Each of these preventive care measures offer a variety of benefits and can reduced your risk for a number of chronic illnesses such as cancer, mood disorders, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and more.

While adults generally need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, children often need far more. Depending on the age of a child or teenager, children should get between eight and 16 hours of sleep each day, naps included. Getting enough sleep each night offers a variety of benefits including:

  • The reduction of overall stress and the improvement of mood in general.
  • The ability to think more clearly.
  • The ability to get along better with others.
  • The ability to make better decisions and avoid injuries that are caused by a lack of sleep.
  • A better overall immune system.
  • The ability to maintain a healthy weight.
  • The reduction of risk factors for certain ailments such as high blood pressure, depression and mood disorders.

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, there are a number of natural sleep aids that you can try, such as melatonin, magnesium and lavender oil. Additionally, consider lifestyle changes, such as going to sleep at the same time each night, removing distractions like TVs and cell phones from the bedroom, keeping your bedroom dark and at an ideal temperature and investing in a better mattress.

Even if you are currently at a healthy weight, exercise is incredibly beneficial no matter your age, gender or physical ability. Exercise can combat a variety of medical conditions such as dementia, type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Regular exercise can also promote flexibility, strength and balance, helping you to avoid falls and minimize the damage done if you do fall. Physical activity builds your endurance, ensures that your cardiovascular system is working efficiently and deliveries oxygen and important nutrients to tissue throughout your body. If you are currently overweight or obese, exercise can help you to burn more calories and boost your metabolism, which can help you to lose weight.

No matter your age, it is recommended that you engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. Aerobic exercises can include activities like walking, swimming, running and dancing. Additionally, it is important to engage in strength training that involves all major muscle groups at least twice a week. There are a number of strength training exercise activities that you can perform, such as lifting weights, lifting your body weight, resistance training or activities like rock climbing and paddling.

It is important to monitor your eating habits in order to ensure that you are maintaining a healthy diet. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can reduce your risk for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Even the smallest change to your diet can help to improve your overall health. Monitor your sugar, calories, salt, cholesterol and protein to ensure that you are within the recommended levels. Stay hydrated and drink water throughout the day. Not only is hydration generally important, but it can help you to remain full and curb cravings. In fact, it is recommended that you drink eight ounces of water prior to a meal. It is also important not to skip meals and to eat at the same time each day, if you are able to. If you struggle with cravings, prepare a healthy alternative snack. Try to drink less sugary drinks, such as soda, or eliminate them from your diet entirely.

How to Get Free Preventive Health Care

Getting free preventive health care is easier than you might think it is. If you have health insurance of any kind, it is important to know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated that health insurance providers must provide free preventive health care within every policy that they offer. Preventive health care that is available to all adults includes:

  • Recommended immunizations.
  • Blood pressure screening.
  • Depression screening.
  • Alcohol misuse screening and counseling.
  • Tobacco use screening and counseling.
  • Obesity screening and counseling.

However, there are additional preventive health care services that are available to specific groups that are determined primarily by age and gender. For example, there are additional screenings available to women of all ages for breast and cervical cancer. Pregnant women are also provided with additional health screenings. Additional screenings that may be provided by your insurance, depending on risk factors, include:

  • Cholesterol screenings.
  • Colorectal cancer screenings.
  • Hepatitis B and C screenings.
  • HPV screenings.
  • Lung cancer screenings.
  • Syphilis screenings.
  • Sexual transmitted infection prevention counseling.

While preventive care services are free, it is important to know that you may still incur other charges during your visit. Most doctor’s offices include additional fees, such as a facility fee or fees related to discussing the results of your screenings. Therefore, you may still be expected to make a copayment through your insurance company.

If you earn a low income or you do not possess health insurance, you may also receive preventive care through federally funded health centers. Health centers are available throughout the U.S. and provide a variety of medical services, including preventive care, regardless of your ability to pay for service. Additionally, services are often offered on a sliding fee basis so you may be expected to pay little to nothing for the services that you receive.

Preventive Care Tips

There are additional preventive care measures that you can complete from the comfort of your own home that can aid you in early cancer detection, the reduction of your risk for a variety of medical conditions and can measure whether or not certain treatment plans may be helping you.

While everyone can benefit from monitoring their blood pressure, it is especially important to track your blood pressure measurements if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or a cardiovascular condition. Additionally, those who are considered high risk for cardiovascular disease can benefit from regular blood pressure monitoring in addition to routine doctor visits. However, it is worth knowing that you may not be able to get an accurate measurement with at-home blood pressure devices if you have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation.

You can purchase a blood pressure monitor online or at your local pharmacy. Prices generally range between $50 and $100. When choosing a blood pressure monitor, it is important that you select a device that meets the standards for your health conditions and age according to the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI). It is also recommended that you choose a monitor that is placed on your upper arm as well as one that is automatic.

When taking blood pressure measurements, it is important to keep a journal and log the measurements that you take each day. Try and take measurements around the same time each day and take more than one reading in order to ensure accuracy. If you do experience a high reading, you need not panic. Wait an additional five minutes before taking your blood pressure again. If you experience any sort of chest pain, back pain, shortness of breath, numbness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, it is important that you contact 9-1-1 immediately.

Breast and testicular self-examinations save lives. It is estimated that forty percent of diagnosed cases of breast cancers were originally discovered through self-examination. Self-examinations should be done on a monthly basis. For women, it is important to perform examinations in the shower, in front of a mirror and while lying down. For men, it is recommended that you perform a both a visual and physical self-examination in front of a mirror, if possible, after a warm shower or bath. If you do find a lump, discharge, blemishes or any other abnormality, it is important to report these findings to your doctor immediately.

By learning how to manage your stress, you can improve your overall health. Notable benefits of reducing the stress in your life include a decreased risk factors of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease as well as a boost in mood, energy and mental health. There are a variety of relaxation techniques that can aid you in reducing your stress, but they do require practice and awareness over the tension in your body. Some of the most noteworthy relaxation techniques include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Tai chi
  • Music and art therapy
  • Breathing control
  • Visualization
  • Aromatherapy

Preventive Dental Care

Preventive dental care is important to both your oral health and your overall physical health as poor oral health has been linked to a number of medical conditions, such as heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. A lack of preventive dental care can also lead to:

  • Cavities
  • Gingivitis
  • Enamel loss
  • Periodontitis

As part of your preventive dental care, it is important to brush your teeth twice daily and take your time in doing so. Additionally, it is important to floss your teeth once per day in order to clean the tight spaces between your teeth. Lastly, visit your dentist at least one per year for an annual checkup and cleaning. Your dentist may also require you to visit more often if you have a higher risk for dental related problems.

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