In order to obtain the best medical care available, you need to develop a basic health competency. Once again, preventive care is the key. It’s important for you to know which tests are appropriate for you at this time in your life. You also need to be aware of how often you should be tested.
Know Your Medical History
Perhaps more important than knowing which tests to take and when, is understanding which diseases pose the most risk for you, and what you can do to be proactive about avoiding them. As an educated health consumer you will want to be aware of your family health history, past immunizations, knowing health problems for which you are at risk, what medical tests are available to you, what lifestyle changes will most improve your health, and what your health care plan does and does not cover.
Your physician can help you to avoid illness by discussing facets of your lifestyle, activities and behaviors that may be affecting your health in adverse ways. Topics you will want to discuss include injury prevention, nutrition and exercise, substance abuse (including alcohol, tobacco and drugs), and activities that place you at higher risk. These may include what you do for a living, and your sexual activities. In order to obtain good medical advice, you have to develop an honest and open line of communication with your health care providers. When they offer advice, pay attention to the changes you can make and talk about areas where you feel you may have difficulty. Even small changes can be the springboard to improved health and longevity.
Decisions for living a healthier life like smoking, seat belt use, driving under the influence (due to alcohol or other drugs), physical inactivity, eating habits and diet and high risk sexual practices are all within in your control.
Published on July 15, 2003