What Is Preventive Medicine And How Does It Work?

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More often than not, medicine falls on the treatment side of things. This means that many people deal with illnesses once their bodies and lives have already been affected. This type of healthcare can have a negative impact on communities, because it doesn’t address health until it’s too late.

Preventive medicine, on the other hand, operates under the technique of avoiding health issues before they start. It’s an approach that targets healthy living over treatment; the prevention of diseases as opposed to finding cures and new ways to cope with symptoms; and the avoidance of ill health altogether.

How does preventive medicine work?

Preventive medicine is a medical specialty designed to act as a prophylaxis. Instead of waiting for people to fall ill and be treated, medical professionals are now actively pushing towards wellbeing approaches. The professionals behind preventive medicine have a range of specialties and use their knowledge in those areas to work toward the common goal of a healthy community.

There are five types of preventive healthcare. They include:


This type of prevention occurs in vitro and is focused on epigenetic healthcare practices by improving the health of the parent, thus improving the health of the child.


Prior to the development of disease, certain steps can be taken to avoid bad habits such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and unsafe sex practices.


By targeting pre-existing condition factors such as genetic disposition or obesity, primary preventive medicine targets areas where a disease could develop if a person remains on the same health path.


For existing diseases that go into remission or become asymptomatic, secondary preventive medicine uses screenings to determine whether or not a disease or worsening of a pre-existing condition could develop.


In those who do suffer irreversible and chronic conditions, tertiary prevention is practiced. This is done by reducing the progression of the disease and managing symptoms.


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Image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash: Widespread nutrition programs could help keep communities healthier for longer.

Is preventive medicine effective?

Due to the increasing age of the UK population, it has been found that many people have a higher life expectancy. This can be chalked up to better healthcare technology, but the system is generally still only treating people only after they fall ill. The efficacy of preventive healthcare has been found to reduce both overall deaths as well as debilitating disabilities across the region.

This is due in large part to the ability to keep people healthy for longer periods of time, thus reducing the risk of premature death and chronic illness.  The economic impact, however, doesn’t change much, and the cost of preventive healthcare is on par with the cost of the current reactive system.

Are chronic illnesses fuelled by reactive medicine?

Reactive medicine has been designed to treat the person only after they’ve developed the disease, and many chronic illnesses could be avoided if better health systems were in place. Things such as smoking, obesity, or lack of knowledge about the prevention of certain chronic illnesses can all lead to grave repercussions on a person’s health.

There are many ailments and illnesses that could be prevented in many cases with a healthier lifestyle. Some examples of lifestyle diseases include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer (lung, colon)
  • Cirrhosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

In a new era where preventive medicine reigns supreme, many of these health issues could be circumvented.

How can preventive medicine help those who suffer from Lyme disease?

When the community is well-equipped with both the knowledge and the tools to prevent chronic conditions, people are much more likely to avoid contracting illnesses that could have otherwise been avoided.

However, knowledge of certain things such as Lyme disease safety practices may not be available to everyone. Also, the dangers that lie in the transmission of Lyme disease may not be as well-known as other diseases, making vital prevention seem much less serious. But if more people are made aware of safety practices in areas where tick populations are high, this could lead to a significant drop in cases.


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Image by Mauro Mora on Unsplash: The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the attention of world leaders towards preventive medicine.

The future of preventive medicine

Community medicine has been at the epicentre of the media lately due to the coronavirus outbreak. Being a community-transferable virus, it’s no surprise that preventive medicine has been brought to the forefront. In terms of communities and transmission, world leaders have been looking toward preventive medicine as a way to limit the devastation the pandemic could cause. If more people are living healthily, it’s more likely illness would be better coped with.

Things such as widespread nutrition programs are being developed to give people a fighting chance at fuelling their body with things that can help them ward off disease. There is also the case of social medicine, a field dedicated to the understanding how health can be directly related to both social and economic conditions. A healthier society is one that everyone can benefit from, and preventive healthcare can help create that new level of wellbeing.

Featured image by Dan Gold on Unsplash