Preventive Services for Healthy Living
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How can my healthcare provider help me stay healthy?
In addition to treating you when you are sick, your healthcare provider can follow a program designed to help you stay healthy. This program tells the healthcare provider which preventive services you need depending on your age, medical history and family history.
What is a “preventive service”?
A preventive service might be a test, or it might be advice from your healthcare provider. Preventive services can detect disease or help prevent illness or other health problems. Preventive services can include the following:
- Tests (also called screenings) to check your general health or the health of certain parts of your body
- Regular measurements of weight and blood pressure
- Advice about diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, stress and accident prevention
- Immunizations (“shots”) for both children and adults
- Special tests at certain times in your life, such as during pregnancy and beginning at age 50
Will my healthcare provider tell me which preventive services I need?
Yes. Follow your healthcare provider’s advice about checkups, about healthy lifestyle 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, contact your healthcare provider.
What preventive services do women need?
Adult women should have their weight and blood pressure checked regularly. They should also have a Pap test every 1-3 years to screen for cervical cancer starting at age 21 or approximately 3 years after they have sex for the first time. Women age 65 and older should be tested for osteoporosis; women younger than age 65 who are at risk should also be tested.
Starting at age 40, women should have a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. Women who have risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history of breast cancer, may need to have mammograms more often or start having them sooner. Women should be tested for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. Certain people may need to continue being tested for colorectal cancer until age 85.
These are routine tests that everyone should have. If your healthcare provider orders these tests for you, it does not mean they think you have a health problem. Your healthcare provider will also make sure you have all the immunizations you need. Your healthcare provider may give you advice about exercise and diet. For example, your healthcare provider may tell you how much calcium you need to prevent bone problems, or they may talk to you about taking folic acid before you get pregnant. Your healthcare provider may also give you advice about alcohol and drug use and sexually transmitted infections, as well as lowering the fat and cholesterol in your diet. Your healthcare provider 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 and blood pressure checked regularly. Men age 40 and older should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly. Beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75, men should be tested for colorectal cancer. Certain people may need to continue being tested for colorectal cancer until age 85. If your healthcare provider orders this test, it does not mean they think you have cancer. This is a routine test that everyone should have. Your healthcare provider will also make sure you have all the immunizations you need. Your healthcare provider may talk to you about the importance of diet and exercise, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sexually transmitted infections. Your healthcare provider 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?
Immunizations are one of the most important preventive services for children. Immunizations (also called vaccines) protect children from diseases such as polio, measles and mumps.
A note about vaccines
Sometimes the amount of a certain vaccine cannot keep up with the number of people who need it. More information is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/vaccine-supply.html
Your healthcare provider will check your child to make sure they are growing and developing properly. Your healthcare provider will tell you what you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy. Your healthcare provider 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 healthcare provider will also talk to you about teaching your child healthy eating habits and exercise habits.
Your healthcare provider can tell you how to teach your child about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. You can also ask your healthcare provider for tips on how to talk to an older child about avoiding pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and AIDS.
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 healthy:
- 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 truck.
- See your healthcare provider regularly for preventive care.