When you’re injured or are suffering from an illness, who’s the first person you contact?
Most people would simply speak to their physician or even just take some painkillers and get back to work. They typically don’t understand what real medical services they have available to them. When they do request a health service to give them a hand, they might rack up large medical bills and be forced to pay ludicrous amounts for basic healthcare services.
This is because a lot of people in the country aren’t actually health literate. But what does that actually mean? What does it mean to be health literate and what can we do to practice it?
Health literacy is about understanding health information and services
Health literacy essentially means understanding things to do with our health. For example, a lot of people would buy hand sanitizer in order to kill any bacteria on their hands. However, did you know that hand sanitizer can also be made from strong alcohol that contains at least 70% alcohol content? This can be bought in bottles known as isopropyl alcohol and work to neutralize bacteria on your hands in much the same way.
It’s small information like this that can not only save you money in the long run but could potentially save your life.
But I’m not a doctor!
Sure–but you don’t need to be one in order to be health literate. Think of it this way; are car owners known as mechanics? Do you need to be an electrician to fix a computer or replace a light bulb?
These specialists are human after all. A skilled worker is technically no different from you as a person–they just have more knowledge. Health literacy is all about finding ways to learn more about our health, the products we use, and generally how to engage with the health services that we have available to us. In short, you don’t need to be a doctor to want to learn more about how to take care of our health.
What are the benefits of health literacy?
There are lots of useful benefits to becoming health literate. For starters, it affects the way that you navigate the healthcare system. If you understand how to get the most out of visits to your physician and you know how to get around a hospital, then you’re going to have a much easier time when it comes to taking care of yourself. It’s also a good idea to understand health insurance, what it can pay for and how you even “use” it when you’re injured.
Furthermore, health literacy can help you understand more about your body, how to treat yourself, and also help you save money in the long run. This can include simple things such as understanding what symptoms to look for when someone is sick or understanding what types of medicine you can take in order to have the best chance of recovery and minimize side effect risks.