Preventive Services for Healthy Living
What can I do to keep myself healthy?
The choices you make about the way you live are important to your
health. Here are some choices you can make to help yourself stay
* Don't use any form of tobacco.
* Eat a healthy diet.
* Exercise regularly.
* Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
* Don't use illegal drugs.
* Practice safe sex.
* Use seat belts (and car seats for children) when riding in a car or
* See your doctor regularly for preventive care.
What can my doctor do to help me stay healthy?
In addition to treating you when you are sick, your doctor can follow a
program designed to help you stay healthy. This program tells the doctor
which preventive services are needed for people at different ages.
What is a "preventive service"?
A preventive service might be a test, or it might be advice from your
doctor. Preventive services can include the following:
* Tests (also called screenings) to check your general health or the
health of certain parts of your body
* Measurements of weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure
* Advice about diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, stress and
* Immunizations ("shots") for both children and adults
* Special tests at certain times in your life, such as during pregnancy
and after age 50
Will my doctor tell me which preventive services I need?
Yes. Follow your doctor's advice about checkups, about healthy life
choices and about medicines that prevent health problems, such as blood
pressure medicine. Preventive services are sometimes offered in your
community (for example, blood pressure tests at the local shopping
center). If you're not sure you need the service being offered, ask your
Who pays for preventive services?
Most health insurance companies pay for at least some preventive
services. If you aren't sure what your insurance will cover, read your
health plan's patient manual or call the health plan's office.
What preventive services do women need?
Adult women should have their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol
levels checked. They also should have a Pap test at least every 3 years
to screen for cervical cancer. After the age of 40, women should have a
mammogram every 1 to 2 years to screen for breast cancer. They should
also be tested for colorectal cancer. These are routine tests that
everyone should have. If your doctor orders these tests for you, it does
not mean he or she thinks you have cancer. Your doctor will also make
sure you have all the shots you need.
Your doctor may give you advice about exercise and diet--for example,
how much calcium you need to prevent bone problems, taking folic acid
before you get pregnant and lowering the fat and cholesterol in your
diet. Your doctor may also give you advice about alcohol and drug use
and sexually transmitted diseases. As you get close to menopause, your
doctor will talk to you about hormone replacement therapy. Your doctor
may also talk to you about injury prevention practices, such as using
seat belts and having smoke detectors in your home.
What preventive services do men need?
Adult men should have their weight, cholesterol levels and blood
pressure checked. Men older than 50 should be tested for colorectal
cancer. If your doctor orders this test, it does not mean he or she
thinks you have cancer. This is a routine test that everyone should
have. Your doctor will also make sure you have all the shots you need.
Your doctor may talk to you about the importance of diet and exercise,
testing for prostate cancer and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs and
sexually transmitted diseases. Your doctor may also talk to you about
injury prevention practices, such as using seat belts and having smoke
detectors in your home.
What preventive services do children need?
Shots are one of the most important preventive services for children.
Shots (also called vaccines) protect children from diseases such as
polio, measles and mumps. Your doctor will check your child to make sure
he or she is growing and developing properly.
Dental health is also important. Your doctor will tell you what
you can do to keep your child's teeth healthy.
Your doctor may also give you advice about how to keep your child safe
from accidents and injuries (for example, using car seats and seat belts
and keeping your child away from poisons and electric outlets). Your
doctor will also talk to you about teaching your child healthy eating
habits and exercise habits. Your doctor can tell you how to teach your
child about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. You can also ask
your doctor for tips on how to talk to an older child about avoiding
pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS.
Need more info on how to stay healthy and slim?