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Why is prevention better than cure?

5 minute read
A young man discussing preventative health measures with his doctor

There are two types of people in the world. Those who get their car regularly serviced and those who hear a funny noise in the engine and keep on driving until they need the NRMA to tow them to a nearby mechanic.

And this, my friends, is the same when it comes to your health.

Many of us book in to see the doctor when we’re feeling unwell; but instead of trying to get better once we’re sick, shouldn’t we be trying to get better so we don’t get sick in the first place?

Why is prevention better than cure?

We’ve all heard the adage, ‘prevention is better than cure’, but to find out why we look to the experts.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released a report that outlined the importance of prevention and control of risk factors, focussing on cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. These three diseases account for just under two-thirds of all deaths in Australia and they all share some big risk factors – physical inactivity, being overweight or obese and high blood pressure.

By reducing or eliminating the risk factors, the AIHW is aiming to reduce the instances of these deadly diseases, and as a result, increase quality of life, while decreasing the cost of treating the diseases.

How can you prevent an illness?

The first thing you should focus on when it comes to preventing illness or disease is to make sure you’re as healthy as possible. Try out these lifestyle tips to help keep your body healthy:

Stay away from smoking

Even second-hand smoke increases your risk.

Maintain a healthy weight

If you’re unsure about what is healthy for you, ask your doctor during your next visit. For heart health, the National Heart Foundation recommends that men have a waist circumference of less than 94cm and women less than 80cm.

Related: How do I know if my weight is affecting my health?

Eat a balanced diet

If you’re unsure of how much you should be eating, take a look at the Australian Eat for Health guidelines and check out our range of simple, healthy recipes.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol

The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend adults have no more than two standard drinks on any given day and include two alcohol-free days per week. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or are under 18 years old are recommended to avoid alcohol completely. For more information, head over to our article, Is it time to rethink the amount of alcohol we drink?

Keep active

Aim to do 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Moderate-intensity exercise causes a noticeable increase in the depth and rate of breathing while still being able to talk comfortably. We’ve developed a range of articles with at-home workouts and exercise tips. Check out our Fitness page for more.

A man in a consultation with his doctor

Get your health checks

The next thing to do is to ensure you’re up-to-date with all your regular health checks. Here are the health checks you should be getting at every stage of life:

nib Group Medical Advisor, Dr Hamish Black, also recommends that you try and be consistent with the doctor you see, as you’ll then get a better overview of your health journey.

“You should also consider signing up for My Health Record, so that if you do visit a different GP, they’ll be able to access important information from your past appointments,” explains Hamish.

What’s involved in a regular check-up? During the session, your doctor is likely to:

  • ask you about your current health, and both your personal and family medical history
  • examine you carefully, looking for any signs of illness
  • ask you to do relevant urine and blood tests
  • ask you about lifestyle habits

This assessment will help your doctor to know if you have or are at risk of developing any chronic diseases. This is a great chance for you to ask your doctor about your health and current recommendations and guidelines. It is best for adults to have a check-up every two years and every year after age 40.

By knowing what's normal for you early on, you'll be able to detect any serious changes later.

By knowing what's normal for you early on, you'll be able to detect any serious changes later

How can nib help you get healthy?

At nib, we’re passionate about giving our members the tools they need to get healthy before they get sick. That’s why we offer a range of health management programs free of charge to eligible members1.

If you’ve been diagnosed with or are at risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes or respiratory disease, the COACH Program© might be an option for you. This program includes personalised coaching with nutrition, fitness and lifestyle advice. With your coach, you’ll be able to set up your own health goals, get advice on the questions to ask your doctor and education on how to maintain your optimal level of health – so you can make long-term changes.

Are you struggling with osteoarthritis pain? Our Healthy Weight For Life™ program aims to help you better manage your joint pain from the comfort of your own home. This program includes more than $800 worth of meal replacements, a portion control eating plan, an activity plan with strength, balance and mobility exercises and ongoing support to help you maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re living with anxiety or depression, we offer MindStep - a six-week phone-based mental health program designed to help you take control of your symptoms and maintain your recovery in the privacy of your own home.

For the full list of programs, or to get more information and apply, visit our health management programs page.

Have you got a specific health concern and not sure where to go to get help? Check out our article, I have a health concern, what do I do?

1Available to eligible nib members who’ve held Hospital Cover for 12 months and served their relevant waiting periods. Additional criteria vary according to each program.

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