Disease prevention … and Covid news

The phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ is often attributed to the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus in around 1500. Nothing has changed; it is still a fundamental principle of modern healthcare.

We can also say “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”, or “treat cause not symptoms”, or even “better safe than sorry”. It all has the same meaning.

The concept of prevention being better than cure focuses on what matters for individuals to promote better health and well-being and stops them from becoming ill.

Dealing with the possible consequences of an undesirable event is much more difficult than preventing it. It is easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.

People generally know the basic rules for making their lives healthier and happier. It is common knowledge but, most times, control/discipline and patience are forgotten.

By properly looking after ourselves and understanding the meaning and principles of prevention, we can learn how to avoid deadly and fatal diseases. The chances of getting sick can be dramatically reduced through the lifestyle decisions that are made.

Many people delay seeing a doctor until they are feeling unwell, forgetting that instead of trying to get better once sick, it is much better to do what we can to avoid getting sick in the first place.

When the body is affected by a disease, the way organs function is affected and needs to be treated. Medications might cause severe side effects and long-term undesirable consequences.

And even more, there are some diseases for which there is no available cure or are difficult to treat, with an unnecessary burden of suffering. Quality of life and life itself will be threatened.

Although genetic and environmental factors contribute to many conditions, a large part of the disease burden results from preventable risks, such as smoking, alcohol, poor diet and physical inactivity. Unfortunately, lifestyle factors such as poor diet, risky alcohol consumption and not enough exercise continue to be leading causes of ill-health.

As aware as people may be of what should be done to live healthier lives, turning things like eating well and exercising regularly into daily habits can be very challenging.

Fortunately, when it comes to preventing disease, even minor lifestyle changes can have a big impact.

The following are basic steps, but they are very important to keep body and mind in the best possible shape and avoid illness as much as possible.

1. Stop smoking: Although smoking rates have strongly diminished over the last 20 years, tobacco use is still responsible for an unnecessary number of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers.

2. Maintain a healthy weight according to your height.

3. Eat a balanced diet: A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, grains, and protein is a great start.

4. Avoid drinking too much alcohol: Alcohol use is responsible for a great amount of avoidable disease and injury.

For most diseases, early detection helps in taking better preventive measures. Avoiding seeing a doctor, and thinking that the disease will get automatically cured, may result in aggravation of the problem, raised expenses, or even endanger life.

It is very important to consider regular visits to the family doctor to monitor the state of health with adequate check-ups, thus monitoring possibly existing diseases early. Finding the real situation early, before symptoms start, makes it possible to control and treat before further, more complicated problems arise. Waiting until symptoms show up and many times deciding to wait “to see if it gets better” will make it all much more difficult.

Nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes, but prevention can avoid many problems and disasters. It is easier to be careful and reasonable beforehand than to solve the problems resulting from irresponsible negligence.

It takes less effort, less time, and it is undoubtedly less expensive!

ECDC Epidemiological update (October 21, 2022)

ECDC – European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – based on modelling estimates predicts that BQ1 and its sub-lineage BQ1.1 will become the dominant SARS-CoV2 strains in EU/EEA by mid-November to the beginning of December 2022.

This will likely contribute to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks to months.

The extent of the increase in COVID-19 cases will depend on various factors, including immune protection against infection influenced by the timing and coverage of COVID-19 vaccination regimes.

Preliminary laboratory studies indicate that BQ.1 has the ability to considerably evade the immune system response. However, according to the limited data currently available, there is no evidence of BQ.1 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating Omicron variants BA.4/BA.5.

Andrea Ammon, ECDC Director, said: “Countries should remain vigilant for signals of BQ.1 emergence and spread, and maintain sensitive and representative testing. Countries should continue to monitor COVID-19 case rates, especially in people aged 65 and older.

“Severity indicators such as hospitalisations, intensive care unit admissions and occupancy, and deaths should be monitored as well”.

A last note: Besides Covid vaccination, now considered seasonal, do not forget the yearly flu vaccine and, if you are above 50 years of age or have any chronic illnesses, think as well about the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccination.

Best healthy wishes,
Dra. Maria Alice Pestana Serrano e Silva
Consultant in General and Family Medicine
General Manager/Medical Director – Luzdoc International Medical Service

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