Being healthy is a trendy topic – information can be found online, in magazines and books, on billboards, TV and more. From “superfoods” to toning tennis shoes to weight-loss supplements, figuring out how to improve one’s health can be overwhelming. While there is no quick fix to being healthy, a great way to get started is through preventive healthcare.
Preventive healthcare is as simple as a regular check-up, when you are not ill, with your primary care provider, says McFarland Clinic Family Medicine Physician Donald Skinner, MD. Different types of physicians can perform preventive healthcare, says Dr. Skinner, with the most common being providers in family medicine, adult medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN. Knowing your family medical history is only part of preventive care. The other part is having a physical and the age-appropriate lab work done, adds Dr. Skinner.
Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® supports preventive care. Components of a physical exam consists of having your weight, height, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure measured. It will also include examination of other organ systems such as the heart and lung. A clinical breast exam, Pap smear and pelvic exam are included in a physical for women. Additional exams for cancer (skin, thyroid, ovaries and testicles) also take place during the physical. How often you have a physical varies according to age, says Dr. Skinner. As you get older, physicals become more frequent and additional tests, such as mammograms and prostate exams, are done, adds Dr. Skinner.
Personal attributes contribute to overall health. Diet and exercise have a huge impact on health, as do personal habits such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, says Dr. Skinner. People should try to limit foods that are high in fat and calories and exercise 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes, he adds. The goal of preventive healthcare is to try to find diseases/illnesses that will affect individual health over time before it becomes serious or uncontrolled, says Dr. Skinner. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key way to prevent other diseases.
There are some health risks of not having regular physicals. Silent conditions, like colon cancer, breast cancer and high blood pressure, can develop over time, says Dr. Skinner, and the first time you can become aware of these conditions is when you have a complication.
Everyone should make an effort to have preventive healthcare done to improve their overall health, says Dr. Skinner. There are a lot of online resources available to educate patients on achieving a healthy lifestyle. Your primary care provider is also a reliable source, he adds.
Learn more about McFarland Clinic Family Medicine North, where Dr. Skinner practices, or call the office at (515) 956-4050.
McFarland Clinic offers preventive healthcare in many communities. To find a clinic close to you visit one of the following McFarland Clinic locations:
To learn more about preventive healthcare and related topics, check out the following online resources: