Traditional medical care focuses on improving health by identifying and treating health problems that have already produced symptoms or complications. In contrast, preventive medical care focuses on preventing health problems from occurring. Preventive care also focuses on diagnosing problems before symptoms or complications arise, when the chances of recovery are greatest. When done well, prevention improves overall health and reduces health care costs.
The general goal of prevention is to reduce a person’s likelihood of becoming ill or disabled or of dying prematurely. Preventive medical care is not a case of “one size fits all.” Specific goals are developed by and for each person. Specific goals depend heavily on a person’s risk profile, that is, the person’s risk of developing a disease based on such factors as age, sex, genetic background, lifestyle, and physical and social environment. Factors that increase risk are called risk factors.
Some risk factors are beyond a person’s control, such as age, sex, and family history. Other risk factors, such as a person’s lifestyle and physical and social environment, can be altered, potentially decreasing risk of developing disorders. In addition, risk can be reduced through good medical care.
Most of the medical care that infants Preventive Health Care Visits in Infants Healthy infants should be seen by their doctor often during the first year of life. Preventive health care visits (also called well-child visits) typically take place within a few days after... read more , older children Preventive Health Care Visits in Children Scheduled visits to the doctor (also called well-child visits) provide parents with information about their child's growth and development. Such visits also give parents an opportunity to ask... read more , and adolescents Preventive Health Care Visits in Adolescents Annual health care visits (also called well-child visits) allow doctors and other health care practitioners to monitor physical growth and sexual maturation (puberty) and provide advice and... read more receive (specifically well-child care) is aimed at recognizing risk factors and preventing problems. For example, examination focuses on detecting early signs of developing problems. Routine health care also includes a review of the child's immunization record and administration of recommended vaccines Childhood Vaccinations Vaccination protects children against many infectious diseases. Vaccines contain either noninfectious components of bacteria or viruses or whole forms of these organisms that have been weakened... read more . Health care practitioners also counsel parents about preventing accidents and injuries in children and adolescents.