In this lesson, we will discuss health promotion, health behavior, and the three different kinds of disease prevention strategies you can employ to stay healthy for as long as possible.
Modern medicine is thankfully becoming a little bit less about treating a disease and a bit more about preventing disease in the first place. Sometimes, once you have a disease, it's difficult to treat it, and when you do treat it, the medicines you take can cause other problems. It should be obvious then that making sure you don't get injured or sick or catch a disease is critical to living a full and healthy life.
This lesson will explore three kinds of preventative strategies you can employ and health behaviors you can undertake in order to make that happen.
Health promotion is defined by the World Health Organization as the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health.
Two important organizations in the U.S. that accomplish this task are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). These agencies serve as centers of information for people who have questions about a certain disease or health-related goals, such as exercise or nutrition. They also conduct research into the latest preventative strategies with respect to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease, be it infectious or otherwise (like cancer).
In fact, these agencies provide you with health behavior-related information. Health behavior refers to a person's beliefs and actions regarding their health and well-being.
As a good example of this, some people's health behaviors jive well with promoting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. People on their best health behavior:
- Do not smoke or use any other tobacco products.
- Do not drink in excess. This means no more than two drinks per day for a man under age 65 and one drink per day for a woman of any age or a man over age 65.
- They also exercise regularly. As a case in point, you can perform two and a half hours of brisk walking every week to help improve your physical fitness.
- And furthermore, such people eat well. This doesn't solely imply you should just eat more fruits and vegetables, which is true. It also means you should simultaneously cut back on salty food, greasy meals, and too many things with simple sugar, like cola or sweets.
Disease Prevention Strategies
Now, using the CDC or NIH to gather information about the public health causes they are promoting is important in order to make sure you stay on top of the latest research regarding your health or a disease you may already have. Engaging in healthy behavior is, even more clearly, critical for wellness.
But there's a third aspect here I'd like to get to right now. It's called disease prevention, and it is the practice of taking steps in order to thwart a disease from occurring in the first place. There are actually three levels of disease prevention that you can employ in order to keep yourself full of vigor, strength, and youth for as long as possible.
Primary disease prevention references the steps you take to avoid a disease process from even starting in your body. Great examples of this include avoiding the sun to prevent skin cancer, washing and cooking your food to stop a stomach bug from getting you, or the avoidance of smoking. Other primary disease prevention strategies include using a condom during sex and vaccinations to avoid the flu. I think you get the point here.
Secondary disease prevention refers to a state where the disease has already started, but it's not causing any symptoms. This means, if caught early, the disease can be nipped in the bud or slowed down before it causes a lot of suffering and makes it more difficult to treat.
For instance, it may be that after many years of sunbathing, you get a few suspicious-looking growths on your skin. Getting them checked out by the doctor before they turn into a much bigger problem like cancer is a way to go about secondary disease prevention.
Other secondary prevention strategies include screening programs for certain age groups or genders, such as breast cancer screening or regular blood pressure measurements that can also help catch problems early before any serious disease process begins.
And when the disease has already hit and symptoms of the disease are present, people can still engage in tertiary disease prevention. You might be wondering what this is all about, since the disease has already started, so what are we preventing at this point?
But the thing here is that many times, even if symptoms have started, we can prevent things like severe pain, the progression of the disease to levels far worse than they are now, or the establishment of secondary diseases or problems as a result of the first (we call these complications).
In a crude sense, at this point, it's still much better to have one problem than two or three because you didn't engage in tertiary prevention. In fact, you may be able to cure yourself of the disease completely, so all hope is not lost.
Examples of tertiary prevention strategies include good blood sugar control in diabetics, entering rehabilitation programs for victims of stroke, and scheduling follow-up exams with a doctor to watch for any signs of the spread of a cancer.
This lesson taught you about health promotion. This is defined by the World Health Organization as the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health.
Two important organizations in the U.S. that accomplish this task are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).
As part of their process of health promotion, these and other agencies provide you with health behavior-related information. Health behavior refers to a person's beliefs and actions regarding their health and well-being. Meaning, people who don't smoke or drink, those that exercise and eat well are engaging in positive and healthy behaviors.
These behaviors are important because they are part of a process called disease prevention, which is the practice of taking steps in order to thwart a disease from occurring in the first place. There are three aspects of disease prevention.
Primary prevention focuses on avoiding disease, period. This means avoiding the sun to prevent skin cancer. Secondary prevention encompasses processes that catch a disease that has started but isn't causing symptoms. Catching something like a suspicious growth on or inside the body early through screening programs can help someone get rid of it before it turns into a dangerous problem like cancer.
And if a disease is already causing symptoms, then tertiary prevention programs can be employed to help a person with a disease live a better life. This includes rehabilitation programs for victims of an injury or stroke.
The process of finishing this lesson could prepare you to:
- Define health promotion and health behavior
- Describe the behaviors that contribute to optimum health as outlined by the CDC and NIH
- Identify the best disease prevention strategies
- Understand the importance of these preventative strategies