An Ounce of Prevention

Why Health and Wellness 
Screenings Are Vital

Have you ever heard the familiar phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Nowhere is this more applicable than when it comes to your own health and well-being!

The Agency for Healthcare research and Quality as well as the National Institute on Aging report that maintaining your health can mean keeping your independence. In fact, research is continually finding new ways to screen for, treat and lower your risk of major diseases, which in turn can help you live a longer, healthier, more satisfying life.

According to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, preventive health care (also known as preventative medicine or prophylaxis) consists of measures taken for disease prevention, as opposed to disease treatment. Preventive health care is important due to the worldwide rise in prevalence of chronic diseases and deaths from these diseases.

There are many methods for prevention of disease. It’s recommended that adults and children aim to visit their doctor for regular check-ups, even if they feel healthy, to perform disease screening, identify risk factors for disease, discuss tips for a healthy and balanced lifestyle, stay up-to-date with immunizations and boosters, and maintain a good relationship with their health care provider.

Health care insurance companies are willing to pay for preventive care, despite the fact that patients are not acutely sick, in hope that it will prevent them from developing a chronic disease later on in life. To help you stay healthy at any age, there are a variety of health screenings and medical tests that you should have routinely performed as prescribed by your physician or health care provider.

Regular health exams and screenings can help find problems before they start. It’s important to learn which screening tests you need and when to get them to hopefully avoid serious health problems or complications down the line.

Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms, such as blood pressure checks and mammograms. When you have a test performed for screening purposes, be sure to ask when you can expect to hear back about the results and any necessary follow-up that may be needed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that to make to most of your screening and check-up visit, be sure to review your family history and write down a list of concerns or questions you may have to take with you.

Even if you’re healthy, you should visit your health care provider from time to time to screen for diseases, assess your risk of future medical problems, encourage a healthy lifestyle, update vaccinations (i.e., the flu shot), and maintain a relationship with your health care provider in case of an illness. These “wellness exams,” or “annual checkups,, are a great way to stay on top of health issues and avoid the unexpected.

The American Academy of Family Physicians and the U.S. Preventative Health Task Force have recommended guidelines regarding how often you should get routine checkups. A frequently asked question about routine checkups is whether they really keep you healthy. The value and frequency of the checkups depends mainly on your age and gender as well as your personal and family history. Certain exams, measurements and lab tests can allow for early treatment and can help prevent more serious problems. Some of the common screening tests recommended include:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Colon Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Lung Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis (Bone Thinning)

Recommended Immunizations include:

  • Yearly flu shot
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough
  • If you are 60 or older, get a shot to 
 prevent shingles
  • If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot

Good health is essential to your overall well being. In addition to health screenings and immunizations, there are certain steps you can begin to take right now to help you stay in top form. Be physically active and make healthy food choices. Get to, and maintain, a healthy weight. Be tobacco-free. Limit your alcohol intake.

You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your health care team about any changes in your health or any concerns you may have. Your health is your best investment for a long and satisfying life. As said in the beginning of this article, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Mina Acquaye, R.N., B.S.N., M.P.H, CHCE, is founder, CEO and administrator of Excell Home Care, Hospice and Personal Care in south Oklahoma City.