National Wise Health Care Consumer Month
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook things – including your health. To ensure you are getting the best care possible, it is important to view yourself as a consumer of health services. As with any product you purchase, it is imperative to research your options and to arm yourself with the most reliable information in order to make wise choices. For this reason, the American Institute for Preventive Medicine sponsors National Wise Health Care Consumer Month, aimed at teaching people how to be more involved in their own health care.
Navigating the maze of health care options can be confusing, but there are a few strategies you can use to help guarantee a high level of care. These include:
- Select a doctor or health care provider after careful research and asking friends or relatives for recommendations.
- Be aware of routine medical tests and examinations and the recommended times to have them, which may help you avoid unnecessary and expensive tests.
- Prepare for health care visits by compiling a list of questions or concerns you wish to discuss during your appointment.
- Be informed about the prescriptions you are taking by asking questions of your doctor when they are prescribed. If you are seeing more than one doctor, make sure each one is aware of the prescriptions are you taking.
In addition to this list, there are four numbers that are key indicators to your overall health. Knowing your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar level, and body mass index can enable you to reduce your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other major chronic illnesses.
Knowing your family’s medical history is also helpful in identifying if you have a higher-than-usual chance of developing common medical disorders, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, and diabetes. These complex disorders are influenced by a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions, and lifestyle choices. A complete record of family medical history includes information from three generations of relatives, including children, siblings, parents, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews, grandparents, and cousins.
It is also important to keep in mind that having relatives with a medical condition does not mean you will definitely develop that condition. Instead, knowing your family’s medical history allows you to take steps to reduce your risk of developing that condition. For example, you may receive more frequent screenings for cancer at an earlier age if you have a family history of breast or colon cancers.
Staying informed about your health care is imperative to your overall health, so take the steps necessary to empower yourself as a health care consumer.