Types of prevention in medicine


The term prophylaxis means prophylactic. From the Greek phylax, which means to keep and observe, preventive treatment is used in health care to prevent disease.

This article looks at what types of prevention are used in healthcare and how they help patients.

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What is preventive health care?

In medicine, the term prophylactic is used to describe procedures and treatments that prevent something. This can include surgery, tooth brushing , vaccinations, and birth control .

For example, a preventive hepatitis vaccine prevents a patient from getting hepatitis. Preventive dental cleaning prevents cavities.

Prevention is good in health care. This avoids the problem by solving a potential problem before it actually becomes problematic. Preventing a disease is usually easier, faster, cheaper and less painful than treating it.

In general conversation, the term prophylactic is sometimes used to refer to condoms. This is because they are considered to prevent unwanted pregnancies.


Preventive health care includes treatments and procedures to help you prevent illness or other conditions. For example, vaccines can help prevent infectious diseases.

Types of preventive care

Preventive care takes many forms. This can continue even after the diagnosis of the disease.

Generally speaking, prevention is more than preventing disease. It can also mean preventing the disease from getting worse or preventing overtreatment.

The different types of prevention include:

Primary prevention: this means preventing or increasing resistance to a disease that you do not have. This can include routine checkups and vaccinations. Pap tests, screening colonoscopy , and mammography are often done in the absence of signs of disease. Once diagnosed, screening is no longer considered primary prevention.

Secondary prevention: steps are taken to prevent the recurrence of a health problem or injury. This could mean changing your work environment to avoid a new injury or taking statins to prevent another heart attack.

Tertiary Prevention: These are steps to help you recover from an ongoing, chronic illness or injury with long-term consequences. Examples include stroke rehabilitation programs or heart failure treatment programs.

Quaternary Prevention – This is the idea that overtreatment can sometimes be harmful and should be prevented. If patients do not benefit from additional treatment, they should not be exposed to it.

For example, if a patient does not respond to the first round of chemotherapy, there is no reason for a second round. Chemotherapy has side effects, so you can prevent harm by stopping treatment.


Prevention can mean preventing a disease, keeping it from getting worse, or stopping overtreatment.

Prophylactic antibiotics

The term "prophylactic antibiotics" refers to antibiotics that are prescribed to prevent infection, not to treat it.

Prophylactic antibiotics are avoided in medical care whenever possible. Overuse of antibiotics has resulted in resistance to antibiotics and is not beneficial to the patient.

Your doctor may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics because the potential benefit outweighs the risk of harm. In some cases, prophylactic antibiotics can reduce the risk of infection in high-risk patients.


Some surgeries have a higher risk of bacterial infections, so you may be given a prophylactic antibiotic. These operations include:

Before surgery, patients can receive prophylactic antibiotics within 30 minutes of the skin incision. They can get it back every four hours or if they have a lot of blood loss.

Dental procedures

People with severe heart problems are prescribed prophylactic antibiotics during dental procedures. This is because dental procedures carry some risk of spreading the infection to the heart. High-risk people include people with:

  • History of infective endocarditis, severe heart infection.
  • Heart transplant with valve problems
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Specific types of heart defects present at birth

People with joint replacements are no longer recommended to receive antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures.

Your surgeon will tell you if you should take prophylactic antibiotics before your procedure. They usually ask about your medical history to determine if you are at high risk for infection.


Your doctor or surgeon will discuss with you whether you should take prophylactic antibiotics before your procedure. These antibiotics are prescribed only when there is a high risk of infection.


Preventive health care helps prevent or reduce the risk of health problems. This preventive care includes brushing your teeth, birth control, and vaccinations, but it can also mean stopping treatment to avoid harm. Prophylactic antibiotics can be given to patients at high risk of infection during surgery or dental procedures.

Get the word of drug information

Preventive or preventative health care plays an important role in helping you stay healthy. Make sure to schedule regular checkups with your doctor and dentist. Both can work with you to decide what types of preventive care are needed at each stage of life.

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