By following a healthy lifestyle, you can greatly reduce the risk of many acute and chronic diseases; however, no matter how well we take care of ourselves, we occasionally need health and medical care. Accidents and injuries happen, acute infections arise, and chronic health issues require ongoing management. Just as important, preventive and wellness care such as periodic physical examinations, gynecological check-ups, dental care, and screening lab tests are tools to look ahead and improve your chances of preventing or delaying the effects of aging and chronic disease.
There are significant advantages to establishing ongoing relationships with health care providers who you know and trust. Early on, your doctor gets to know your relevant medical and family history, assesses your current health status, and can advise ways to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Subsequent care insures that someone is working with you to make sure you are achieving your health goals, adjusting your plan as necessary and avoiding any potential harm. In the long run, when health issues arise, there is a partner you can turn to, to help treat and guide you.
On the other hand, if you don't have a health care provider, you may be unaware of underlying health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other predictors of health risk, and seek expensive care at emergency rooms or with doctors who don't know your health history and treatment preferences.
Naturopathic doctors, or NDs, are general health practitioners who specialize in natural medicine. Trained much like medical doctors in physical examination and diagnosis, NDs provide preventive health care including review of health history, physical exam, and screening for disease risk as well as treating common health conditions. NDs are well trained in nutrition, herbal medicine, lifestyle factors and other natural therapies to maintain good health as well as address specific health conditions. An ND on your health care team can help you live a healthy lifestyle as well as treat many health conditions in ways that support your innate healing ability.
Having an MD on your team is also important. Modern medicine is particularly effective in treating injuries and emergency health conditions, and MDs have access to strong medicines which can be life-saving. Further, MDs are well trained in diagnosis and have access to current technology and procedures such as surgery that can be essential in the proper treatment of many injuries and diseases. Medical specialists such as orthopedists and ophthalmologists provide highly qualified treatment for specific health problems.
Rounding out your health care team may involve working with an acupuncturist, physical therapist, chiropractor, or other health care provider either on a preventive basis or to address specific health issues.
Whoever you choose to be a member of your health care team, it is important that they know your goals and your desire to manage your health with an integrative approach. They should be open to your active involvement in your health and be willing to coordinate care as needed with other team members.