The wise saying “prevention is better than cure” has not been followed to the letter by current medicine, but it could make it simpler, less costly and more effective. What is called Preventive Medicine should be a practice consisting of efforts aimed at preventing diseases or injuries , whether in the community as a whole or in the individual. But only very timidly has this happened.
The logic of Preventive Medicine is to identify the risk factors of falling ill, in the individual and in society, and to reduce or eliminate them. Instead, predominantly curative medicine has been practiced, increasingly focused on new medications, techniques and treatment devices.
Shy preventive activities end up being practiced in some way by all doctors, but Preventive Medicine to the fullest extent of its meaning does not depend only on doctors, it also involves problems of the environment, sanitation, pollution, etc. It should focus, in addition to individual health , on the health of defined communities and populations, which is why it is often also called public health , although they are not the same thing.
Doctors specialized in Preventive Medicine are professionals who, in addition to medical sciences, must have skills in social, economic and behavioral sciences and have essential skills in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental and occupational medicine, planning and evaluation of health services , management of organizations of health , research on causes of diseases and injuries in population groups and the practice of prevention in clinical medicine.
The scope of Preventive Medicine is very extensive:
- Primary prevention, when it seeks to prevent the occurrence of the disease, starting from the gestational period. This is the area of greatest coverage of Preventive Medicine, working before the disease even shows its first signs .
- Secondary prevention, which tries to diagnose and treat diseases in their early stages, to prevent them from evolving and causing further damage to health .
- Tertiary prevention, which aims to reduce the negative effects of an installed disease, restoring the compromised function, reducing complications and preventing it from evolving and bringing new damage to the body.
- Quaternary prevention, which seeks to avoid or minimize the effects of unnecessary or excessive medical interventions.
Preventive Medicine began to gain strength in the 1980s and its development was driven, among other factors, by the concern with the high costs of treatments in the health system and the finding that preventing diseases is less costly than treating them. .
Risk factors that favor the outbreak of diseases
Preventive Medicine must act mainly on the risk factors that favor the outbreak of diseases, either by avoiding them, by fighting their effects, or by guiding patients with respect to them.
The main risk factors that favor or trigger illnesses are:
- The seasons, since there are more frequentillnesses in the winter, such as the flu, for example, and others in the summer, such as diarrhea
- The climate, because there are diseases that are more suited to dry climates and others that are specific to humid climates
- The food , as some diseases are triggered due to incorrect eating habits
- The sedentary lifestylethat favors the emergence of many diseases and gives rise to other
- The indiscriminate use of tobacco , alcohol and drugs, which opens the door to many diseases
- Exposure to external aggressive, chemical, physical or biological agents
- Poor personal care or hygiene habits, which can result in illness
- Contact with microbes and disease vectors
- Low performance of the autoimmunesystem
- Continuity solution in the skinor mucous membranes(perforations, cuts, wounds)
Read about ” Smoking “, ” Stop smoking “, ” Healthy eating ” and ” Sedentary lifestyle “.
How to prevent diseases?
In addition to avoiding risk factors, some medical measures can also prevent illnesses or mitigate their effect.
- Vaccines nowadays prevent a large number of infectious diseases
- Antibiotics, used prophylactically in some situations, prevent many infections
- The early diagnosis(sometimes still intrauterine) of malformations and degenerations allows their effects to be avoided, minimized or corrected
- The diagnosisearly metabolic errors that potentially would have bad consequences can help fix them or avoid them
- Detecting and removing precancerous conditions prevents the onset of cancer
- Laboratory and imaging tests may show early signsof potential illness that can be avoided or minimized in their effects
- A balanced diet helps to preserve health
- Stress avoidance plays an important role in healthconservation
- Genetic counseling leads parents to manage the risk of genetic and hereditary diseases and to make correct family planning
- General and periodic medical examinations ( checkups) and specific periodic controls such as mammography, PSA measurement , colonoscopy , cholesterol measurement , etc. can detect pre-morbid situations and diseases in their early stages
See also on ” Examination Pap “, ” Rectal “, ” Examination of blood hidden in stool ” and ” polyps intestinal “.
What does the doctor who specializes in preventive medicine do?
The specialist physician in Preventive Medicine aims to prevent diseases from arising and developing in individuals or populations. Its performance is more focused on the social than on the singular individual, although it also acts on the individual level.
At the individual level, one of the main tools of this specialist is early diagnosis . Through regular examinations, he seeks to detect risk factors for diseases in their initial phase and reduce or eliminate their effects. Thus, he can intervene to prevent the development of the disease or start treatment in time to avoid or minimize damage to the patient’s health . These interventions usually involve intensive educational work, which encourages healthy habits among individuals and among the population.
For having a specific training in the area, the specialist doctor in Preventive Medicine is the ideal person to coordinate a department of collective preventive care or to work in health operators and getting involved in wellness programs, checkups campaigns and early diagnoses, exams periodical doctors, support groups for patients with chronic diseases, among other activities.