Prevention is Better Than Cure!

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BY ALLISON BROWN

I recently informed my family that I was writing for the Toronto Caribbean Newspaper.  The response was great and I could feel a sense of pride coming from them.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share my knowledge and views about healthcare.

I have been a Registered Nurse for the past twenty-seven years. My career began at the bedside and has led me to corporate training in healthcare.  Giving to others is something that comes naturally to me and I am proud to give back to the community by writing about healthcare issues.  

My wonderful dad asked that I write about preventative check-ups this week. I hope to do this topic justice. Here’s to you dad. With life’s busy schedule it is easy to get so bogged down with the day to day challenges of life and miss the opportunity to meet with healthcare professionals to ensure one is healthy.  

Our bodies are so well made that it begins to compensate when things are going wrong. One often has a “sense” that something is wrong but then dismisses this feeling. There are a few signs and symptoms that are dismissed that can point to very real and serious health issues. Polydipsia-excessive thirst, polyuria-excessive urination, and polyphagia-excessive hunger are symptoms that can be a sign of diabetes. Nocturia-voiding at night, hematuria-blood in the urine and diminished sex drive can be a sign of prostate issues. Headaches and swollen ankles could be signaling hypertension-high blood pressure. Feelings of sadness, melancholy and a sense of doom and gloom can point to depression.  Nervousness, sweating, rapid pulse and chest pain could indicate anxiety.  Midsternal chest pain, shortness of breath, diaphoresis-sweating and pain radiating down the right arm, lower, jaw or abdomen, can be indicative of a heart attack.   Discovering lumps in the breast(s), testicles, leg and/or neck can be indicative of something more serious that warrants investigation.  Hemoptysis-blood in the sputum and hematochezia-blood in the stool are symptoms that must be investigated.

Pain anywhere, anytime, often dispelled because of the thought that it is age related should not be neglected. Short term memory loss, confusion, apathy, lapse in judgment and difficulty completing daily tasks could be a sign of early dementia. It is vital to get one’s health checked in general on a yearly basis with age related diagnostic tests.  It would save the healthcare system millions of dollars if people are proactive about healthcare matters rather than reactive. The cost of reactive healthcare is not only a hit to the bottom line but more importantly the impact on people’s lives.

Navigating the healthcare system at best is not easy; imagine having to take in information when one is not well and not in the right frame of mind. It is also important for caregivers to listen to those in their care. Do not think, “Oh, they are old and complaining all of the time”.  

This province spends billions of our tax dollars on healthcare. By moving to a model based on prevention perhaps we will be able to sustain the healthcare system.  We cannot simply rely on what the government is doing, we have to be responsible for our own care needs.  And those who can, must share in the responsibility for those who cannot navigate the healthcare system. It is important to have a healthcare practitioner, whether a general or nurse practitioner to obtain the appropriate yearly check-ups and diagnostic tests. It is vitally important to make an appointment to see a healthcare practitioner if any of the above listed symptoms is noticed as soon as possible. Your health is important but more importantly you are more than your health. The body is “wonderfully made, it is a “temple” and all that is required of us is that we “listen” to what the body is telling us and take action.  Hope this article was informative dad…

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