Until the mid-20th century, people consulted a doctor only when they were ill, injured, or pregnant. Although for many people this is still the case, the intervening period has seen an explosion in public knowledge about health and disease and a growing emphasis on health care that prevents as well as treats disease.
The main point of contact with health services for most people is with their GPs or other primary health-care professionals, such as practice nurses, dentists, and opticians. The first article offers advice on choosing a practice and getting the best from consultations with your doctor.
The next subject is immunization. In developed countries, programmes of immunization from birth onwards have dramatically reduced many of the infections that used to be common in childhood. Immunization also protects people from serious illness in later life.
As well as treating disorders, primary health-care providers are responsible for two important elements in preventive health care: checkups carried out during childhood and later in life, and screening tests to identify risk factors and early signs of disease. These topics are covered in the last two articles.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.
The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.