An Apple a Day: Preventative Care in Wheeling, WV

Preventative care — visiting the dentist, the optometrist, immunizations, vaccinations and annual exams — are all vital to maintaining optimal health. During these regular preventative visits, you and your doctor will work together to create a health plan. The screenings your doctor may recommend will be based on your age, family history and symptoms. For example, your doctor may test your blood glucose and cholesterol while recommending a flu shot.

These preventative care measures catch health issues early on, allowing them to be treated before they’re severe. For children, preventative care typically includes immunizations and testing for normal musculoskeletal, reflex and cognitive development.

7 out of 10 deaths in America are from chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, etc). The rate of chronic disease in adults is around 50%. And most medical professionals agree that most of these diseases are preventable. Focusing on preventing these diseases helps create a healthier environment at home, work and school. Read on to learn about preventative measures you and your family can take to increase your wellbeing.

Family hiking to stay active and healthy as part of their preventative care plan.

EXERCISE AND ACTIVITY

You don’t have to go to the gym five times a week to stay active. You can play outside with your kids, go for a hike, enjoy swimming in summer and even play an active video game such as the Wii or Xbox Kinect. It’s important to chose exercise and activities that you enjoy, so that you’re more likely to stick with a routine. Make a reasonable goal to do something active four to five times a week. If it’s hard to fit exercise or activity into your day, focus on just doing something. You’ll soon find yourself settling into a routine.

HEALTHY EATING

Healthy eating doesn’t mean a salad for every meal and restricting your calories to extremes. It simply means making the best choice from the options you have available. Instead of serving french fries with dinner, consider serving sweet potato. Switch out a sugary chocolate cereal for oatmeal or a whole grain cereal with less sugar. Instead of a soda, try an unsweetened tea or fruit-infused water. Making small changes each day makes a major impact on the overall health of you and your family.

SMOKING AND TOBACCO USE

Many insurance companies now charge a premium for smokers and tobacco users. And policy holders have to be completely honest about usage. Many insurance companies are offering free programs for smoking cessation. With these programs and numerous community support groups, you won’t be alone in your journey to quit. If you smoke or use tobacco, quitting will have a major positive impact on the health of you and your family. Within one month of quitting, your risks of lung disease and other smoking-related illnesses drastically decrease. If you are unsure where to start, talk to your doctor. They won’t judge you for being a smoker, they just want to help you be your healthiest self.

Catherine MacAlister is Reynolds Memorial Hospital’s Tobacco Treatment Specialist. She offers inpatient counseling to individuals who wish to quit smoking. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about this service, please contact Catherine at 304.843.3258.

REPRODUCTIVE AND SEXUAL HEALTH

As uncomfortable as it can be to discuss with your significant other and teenage children, it’s crucial to ensure that you and your family are taking care of reproductive and sexual health. Boys and girls, along with their parents, can consider the three-part vaccination for HPV. This vaccination can prevent serious diseases, such as ovarian cancer. It’s important to schedule an annual exam for both men and women — these exams can help catch abnormalities while they’re still easy to treat. Most health insurance covers annual exams; however, if you’re uninsured or underinsured, you can call your local Health and Human Services Department to see what your options are.

MENTAL HEALTH

There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you think you would benefit from seeing a licensed therapist — more people see a therapist on a regular basis than you think. It doesn’t mean you’re “crazy” or “weird”. It simply means you’ve made a decision to actively resolve the issues that you’re facing in life. Seeing a therapist can help you find healthy ways to deal with extreme stress, help you work through depression and manage anxiety. It can also be helpful to see a therapist with your spouse or a family member with whom you have conflict. Taking care of your mental health is a vital part of your overall health and shouldn’t be neglected. Making the first call to seek the support of a therapist is difficult — therapists are always completely confidential (this is the law) and your doctor can help you find somebody you trust.

REYNOLDS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your doctor for a preventative visit, call today to schedule an appointment. Maintaining your health throughout your life course is crucial to you and your loved ones.

Reynolds Memorial Hospital isn’t just for emergencies. We also offer a variety of preventative care options to help you stay healthy.

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