Boy, how has this year flown by. It’s mid 2017 and here’s a gentle reminder to get your annual or otherwise scheduled health check-up or review. The “Check-up” entails different elements and covers various health risk factors for different age groups and backgrounds. These check-ups are designed for prevention or management of chronic (important or long term) conditions.
Talking about risk factors for chronic conditions, there are modifiable and non-modifiable risks. Modifiable risks are the things we can do something about, altering them will reduce the chance of or prevent the development of a condition, a heart or stroke event for example. These include smoking, weight, blood pressure, sugar, sun exposure to name a few. Non-modifiable risks are those we can’t change, for example our gender, family history or genetics.
Prevention comes in different forms and guidance is available at every step.
PRIMARY prevention aims to prevent disease or injury before it ever occurs. This is done by altering unhealthy or unsafe behaviours that can lead to disease or injury, preventing exposures to hazards that can cause disease or injury and increasing resistance to disease or injury should exposure occur. It comes in several forms and can include things like Pap smears, mammograms, faecal occult blood tests, colonoscopies, skin checks, travel medicine advice to name a few. Your GP will guide you towards to right screening and assessments depending on your specific needs.
Then there is SECONDARY prevention, which aims to reduce the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred. This is done by detecting and treating disease or injury as soon as possible to stop or slow its progression and implementing a plant to return people to their best health and function and prevent long-term problems.
And finally, TERTIARY prevention aims to soften the impact of an ongoing illness or injury that has knock on effects. This is achieved by helping people manage long-term, often complex health problems and injuries to optimise their ability to function and maximise quality of life. There are both medical and vocational rehabilitation programs and countless support groups both local and national that can offer support and we can give you advice to point you in the right direction.
Because of my background in dentistry I have a bias towards an often forgotten, but no less important part of health prevention, which is oral health. Regular and correct oral hygiene in the way of tooth brushing and flossing may not only maintain your oral and dental health (with their obvious associated benefits) but may also modify your health in general. There is literature to suggest good dental health is associated with good cardiovascular and respiratory health. Also, if your wisdom teeth are bothering you, consultation is available to explore and explain what you may need.
Dr. Phong To
BDSc, MBBS, FRACGP