- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Eight Ways To Protect Yourself From Falling Ill
Various Grades of Disease Prevention
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Nobody wishes to visit a doctor's clinic or hospital at his or her own will. Health is a state of overall well being. If you are physically fit, you will feel more energetic, work harder, will be able to earn more money, go for vacations and lead a fulfilling life.
Marked variations in disease incidence and survival exist that are attributable to age, gender, race/ethnicity, geographical location and socioeconomic status.
There are various ways and means that can improve your body immunity, help to ward off diseases and make you stay fit and live a longer and disease free life. The various grades or levels of prevention of diseases include the following :
- Primary prevention - This includes various forms of health promotion and vaccination to minimize the risk factors and subsequent occurrence of illness.
- Secondary prevention - This involves screening for early detection of diseases that it could be cured at an early stage.
- Tertiary prevention - This consists of reducing the frequency of recurrence of an existing illness.
There are various preventive measures that if religiously followed can protect you from falling ill. These include the following :
Avoid Tobacco To Stay Healthy
1. Avoid Tobacco Products
Perhaps the largest potentially modifiable risk to health is abuse of tobacco products. It increases the risk of heart diseases, cancer and lung problems.
Passive exposure to tobacco smoke can be as harmful as active smoking and can lead to chronic pulmonary disease and increase cancer risk.
Since nicotine has addictive properties, so preventing the initiation of tobacco abuse is the best protective measure.
Most chronic smokers acquire their habit in their teen years, and primary efforts to discourage initial tobacco use must engage younger audiences.
Since around 70% of smokers have to consult a health professional every year, so proper counselling regarding the health risk of tobacco and the methods to quit should be advised during medical encounters.
Setting a date to quit, arranging follow up visits or telephonic conversation with counselors during initial phases of abstinence, reading literature about health hazards associated with smoking and use of nicotine replacement systems might help you to give up tobacco based products.
2. Abstain from Alcohol and Addictive Drugs
Screening for exposure and addiction could make it more convenient to prevent injury, violence and medical complications of drug abuse.
Interventions such as counselling, referral to ambulatory and in-patient treatment programs, use of community organizations and appropriate use of medications such as methadone for drug abuse can reduce addiction rates.
3. A Healthy Diet Is A Key To Good Health
Quality and quantity-wise modifications in your diet can lead to reduced morbidity and mortality from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases.
Excess body weight is an independent risk factor for heart diseases. It also contributes to an increased risk of diabetes, raised blood cholesterol levels, and a high blood pressure.
Being overweight means your BMI (Body Mass Index) being 20% or above the acceptable body mass index (kg/m2). BMI is calculated by dividing measured body weight in kilograms by the height in meters squared. The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines a normal BMI as = 18.5-24.9 kg/m2; Overweight is defined as BMI = 25-29.9 kg/m2.
Extra calories are usually derived from fats, particularly saturated fats like butter, margarine (also the most significant source of harmful trans fats), fatty meat, cocoa butter, and palm oil.
Saturated fat intake correlates with blood cholesterol levels. For every 1% reduction in plasma cholesterol level, coronary heart disease risk is reduced by 2-3%.
Excess saturated fat intake increases the risk of cancers of breast, colon, prostate and lung. In your daily diet, reducing calories from all fats to 30% and from saturated fats to less than 10% is essential to a disease free life.
Increasing the intake of dietary fiber, such as from plant, legume and grain sources significantly reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Dietary sodium restriction may benefit those who have salt-sensitive high blood pressure.
Calcium and vitamin-D supplementation (in the form of calcium rich food products and fortified dairy) is protective against osteoporosis, both for young women prior to menopause and for older post-menopausal women.
Young women are also at risk of iron deficiency anemia, so should increase their intake of iron containing fruits and vegetables.
To achieve the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals, a varied diet including fish, lean meat, dairy products, whole grains, and 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, is recommended.
Antioxidants such as vitamins-C and -E must be obtained from a balanced diet.
4. Physical Activity For A Longer, Healthier Life
Increased physical activity contributes to energy expenditure leading to a decrease in obesity, and an active lifestyle reduces the incidence of heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
The magnitude of benefit from exercise may be as great as a 35% reduction in coronary artery disease. Even light exercise is preferable to no exercise. Ideally 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous activity most days of the week, is essential, but even light to moderate activity such as walking for 30 minutes 3 to 5 times per week yields benefits.
A sudden onset of vigorous activity in the unfit may increase the risk of a heart attack. Previously sedentary individuals should follow a graded increase in their activity level and that too under medical supervision.
A Few Steps Towards A Healthier Self
Protect yourself from cancers, heart diseases, lung problems
Prevent injury, violence and liver damage
A healthy diet
Protect yourself from lifestyle diseases
Reduce risk of osteoporosis and obesity
Cure diseases at an early stage
Automobile Accidents are a common cause of Unintended Injuries
Install a smoke detector on every floor of your house
Infectious diseases endemic in certain geographical areas, and toxic exposure produced by local industry constitute the environmental health hazards.
Skin cancers that constitute the most common form of malignancy are associated with increased sun exposure. As a protective measure one should avoid the midday sun when ultra violet radiation intensity is very high, and wear a sunscreen on a daily basis.
Toxin exposures such as due to air pollution, household smoke or carbon monoxide and radon gases also increase disease risk.
You should preferably remain indoors and wear a face mask when air pollution levels are dangerously high. Every house should have a properly fitted chimney and be properly ventilated. Check the gas tanks of your car regularly to avoid any chances of leakage.
Proper food preparation and storage methods reduce the incidence of food borne infections.
Automobile accidents can lead to severe unintended injuries. You are at a 30% lifetime risk of being involved in a disabling traffic accident. Any serious injuries could be prevented with regular seat belt use. Drunk driving should be avoided and motorcycle and bicycle riders should wear helmets.
You should install at least one smoke detector on every floor of your house, that fire can be detected when it begins and any major damage can be prevented.
Those at risk of occupational health hazards such as exposure to metals, dusts, fibers, chemicals, fumes, radiation, loud noises, extreme temperatures and biological agents, should be identified and steps be taken to prevent long term consequences of exposure.
Community and family violence, particularly through the misuse of firearms, is another leading cause of unintentional injuries. Firearms, especially hand guns are far more likely to injure a family member than an intruder, and are associated with increased rates of suicide and harm to children. One should remove such weapons from home. Screening for exposure to relationship violence, developing plans for safe havens, and referrals to appropriate community and government agencies can prevent continued abuse.
6. Regular Immunization For Children And Adults
Every individual - child or adult - should maintain an adequate defense against infectious diseases by immunization.
The objective is to ensure vaccination of all those who have not received varicella or hepatitis-B vaccine; to make certain that a second dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) has been given as well as a booster dose of tetanus and diphtheria (Td); and to provide immunizations (influenza and pneumococcal vaccine) that may be indicated for certain high risk individuals.
Certain medications can be used to prevent diseases. Therapy of this nature in the otherwise healthy person is not free of risks. An example of this being the use of aspirin for the prevention of heart problems and colorectal cancer. The potential for brain hemorrhages and damage to the linings of stomach and intestines, however, must be balanced against an individual's risk for target diseases.
Another example is post menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) given to healthy women for the prevention of future disease (coronary heart disease and osteoporosis), as well as to control postmenopausal symptoms. These benefits must be weighed against the risk of possible cancers of breast and uterus.
Prevention of Diseases
- Blood pressure
- Height and weight
- Pap smear
- Mammography and breast exam
- Assess for problem drinking
- Totalblood cholesterol(men aged 35 to 64 and above, women aged 45 to 64 and above)
- Vision screening
- Assess for hearing impairment
- Tobacco cessation
- Avoidance of alcohol and drugs while driving, swimming and boating
- Limitation of fat, cholesterol
- Maintenance of calorie balance
- Emphasis on grains, fruits, and vegetables in diet
- Adequate calcium
- Physical activity
- Lap/shoulder belts
- Motorcycle and bicycle helmets
- Smoke detectors
- Storage or removal of firearms
- STD prevention
- Dental visits, fluoride, flossing
- Fall prevention
- CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) traing at home
- Hot water heater
Discussion of hormone replacement therapy with post menopausal women
8. Screening For The Presence Of Diseases
There are many diseases, as for example high blood pressure and diabetes that have gradually creeped into our lives due to our sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.
They have a very long preclinical latent period during which they start causing damage.
Regular screening programs for the society, and individual check-ups during physician visits can help detect and control these diseases at an early stage.
Our Health is in Our Own Hands
As big things come in small packages, so just keeping in mind these little titbits, as eating healthy, abstaining from tobacco and alcohol, exercising regularly, wearing sunscreens, regular use of seat belts, installing smoke detectors, regular maintenance of household appliances, electric circuits, car parts, getting vaccinated as per schedule, and regular screening for diseases or a yearly complete body checkup, can protect us from falling ill and even if any disease has crept in, it can be identified and treated early that it causes least damage.