There are about 79 million Americans living with prediabetes. And 40% of women who are 65 years old have osteopenia, an illness that is usually followed by osteoporosis.
When these and other pre-diseases are diagnosed in patients, their physicians are able to create treatment plans that can stop the diseases from becoming fully developed. Meaning patients are saved from things like pain, premature death, and having to load up on tons of medications.
Preventative health can help people live longer, more comfortable lives. And in this article, we will give you the details of how it all works.
What Exactly is Preventative Health?
Preventative health helps doctors and patients focus on stopping the development of preventable diseases, illnesses, and injuries. Some preventative health measures your physician might use are immunizations, proactive screenings, counseling, and coaching.
For instance, let’s say you smoke cigarettes. As part of your preventative health care, your doctor will educate you on the health risks like lung cancer that smoking can create. There may even be some counseling and other resources to help you quit.
Another part of preventive care for a smoker can include making lifestyle changes to help your body heal after you’ve quit.
With that said, keep in mind that preventative healthcare isn’t solely about monitoring patients’ bad habits. If you have a family history of certain diseases, like diabetes, for example, your doctor will assist you in taking extra preventive measures.
Because being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle are among the most common risk factors for diabetes, they may encourage you to start exercising and eat healthier. They may even test your blood sugar and other factors more often than they would with patients who don’t have the risk.
If a person has a pre-disease, they are in a danger zone where they might receive a full diagnosis if changes aren’t made. Often time, pre-diseases don’t display noticeable symptoms, which is why regular doctor’s appointments and screenings are important.
It is also important to note that not everyone with a pre-disease ends up with the real thing. Even without treatment. There are instances where a person on the verge simply doesn’t worsen.
With that said, you should always listen to your body. Let your doctor know if you begin to experience side effects from preventive care. You should also keep track of whether symptoms develop or change.
Commonly Diagnosed Pre-Diseases
Some pre-diseases affected larger ranges of people than others. Here are some that are commonly diagnosed and how they are treated:
A safe blood sugar level falls between 70 and 105 mg/dl for a person who is in between meals. After a meal, the amount tends to increase. But it shouldn’t go any higher than 140 mg/dl.
A person with type 2 diabetes has blood sugar levels of 200 mg/dl or more.
Pre-diabetics have blood sugar levels that are higher than the average person but are lower than the diabetic range. The fasting blood sugar levels a person who receives this diagnosis is typically between 100 and 125 mg/dl.
Diabetes can cause damage to the functioning of various parts of the body. It can double your risk of a stroke and heart attack and it is also the leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S.
According to the CDC, 75 million (about one third) American adults have pre-hypertension. It can be caused by dozens of triggers.
- Thyroid disease
- Over the counter pain medications
- Family history
- Diets that are high in salt and low in potassium
Pre-hypertension is defined as having blood pressure that’s between 120/80 and 140/90. This range isn’t high enough to be called hypertension. But it is high enough to cause concern.
Preventative health care, which typically includes lifestyle changes, care can help bring these levels down to normal. When pre-hypertension becomes full-blown high blood pressure, patients’ risks for coronary heart disease, kidney failure, heart failure, and stroke are elevated severely.
A clean eating diet that’s high in vitamins and nutrients paired with improving one’s activity levels is often prescribed to treat both pre-hypertension and pre-diabetes. Medication isn’t usually introduced unless either condition escalates.
Pre-Dementia is a pre-disease that mostly affects elderly patients. It is often caught by a patient’s loved ones, but shouldn’t be confused with the normal forgetfulness that accompanies aging.
Confusion and memory loss are often mild during the pre-dementia stages. Doctors may include medications that help slow down the illnesses progression and prescribe memory care activities like exercise, social interaction, and dietary changes. But there isn’t a cure.
The most severe cases of dementia result in the patient enrolling in a memory care facility.
Osteopenia is a pre-disease that results in some bone loss, it just isn’t enough to be called osteoporosis. It is more common in women who are in menopause or post menopause to receive this diagnoses. Although, men are at risk as well.
Osteopenia of the hip is the most common in both genders and it increases the risk of hip fractures.
Treatment can include medications called bisphosphonates. They help slow down the body’s process of breaking down bone.
Patients respond differently. Some may experience improved bone density while others just keep the same amount of bone they had before treatment.
Hormone replacement therapy and supplements like zinc, copper, and folic acid are sometimes used too.
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Preventative health measures vary based on multiple factors. Your lifestyle, family history, and age are just a few that can determine your doctor’s approach to prevention.
As people approach senior citizenship, finding and diagnosing pre-diseases become more important because of the increase of potential illnesses that come with age. Follow our blog for more advice about aging health and caring for your loved ones through these processes.