5 Commonly Misunderstood Health Terms Explained

Health literacy is defined as the ability to read, process, and understand healthcare information in order to make appropriate care decisions. Making health information easy to understand is a vital component of ensuring quality care and making the healthcare system easier to navigate. In honor of Health Literacy Month, the health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, have explained five commonly misunderstood health terms.

1.    Primary Care Provider (PCP) vs. Specialist. A Primary Care Provider (PCP) is considered to be your main healthcare practitioner and can address most of your common health concerns and questions. Your PCP is responsible for comprehensive care on a continual basis. You should see your PCP for wellness check-ups and general health needs. A specialist is a health professional who has completed advanced training in a specific area of care. You may or may not need to see a specialist, depending on your needs. Examples of a specialist include an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT) or a cardiologist for treatment regarding the heart. Most often your PCP will refer you to a specialist if needed.

2.    Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter (OTC). Prescription medication is prescribed or ordered by a medical practitioner, like a Primary Care Provider, for the use of one individual. These medications are only available for pick up with a valid prescription at a pharmacy. Over-the-Counter (OTC) medications do not require a prescription. They can be purchased from convenience stores, supermarkets, and drug stores to be used when needed and are not unique to an individual, such as regular-strength aspirin. Both prescription and OTC medications may be utilized, recommended, or even prescribed by a PCP, however, prescription medications require the health care practitioner to request the medication on behalf of a patient, called a prescription.

3.    Glaucoma vs. Cataracts. Though both glaucoma and cataracts cause vision loss, they affect the eyes in different ways. Glaucoma is linked to increased pressure inside your eye causing damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Due to this, glaucoma can lead to permanent vision loss. A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that causes reduced or impaired vision and is often related to aging. Both conditions should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.

4.    Tooth Decay vs. Cavities. Tooth decay is caused by a combination of factors including bacteria in your mouth, sugar in the food you eat, and the formation of plaque, which is a film that coats your teeth and can damage tooth enamel. Tooth decay, if left untreated, can result in the formation of cavities, which are permanent holes in the hard surface of your teeth. Both tooth decay and cavities can be avoided by daily brushing and flossing and regular check-ups with your Dentist in Seattle.

5.    Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes involve insulin, but differ in terms of production, use, and effectiveness. Insulin is a hormone your body produces that allows for blood sugar to be absorbed by cells and used for energy. With Type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t make insulin at all causing blood sugar levels to become too high, which can lead to serious, even fatal, health complications. Only about 5-10% of those with Diabetes have Type 1, and these individuals need to take insulin regularly. With Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas often still produces insulin, but the body’s cells can’t use it properly, causing blood sugar to spike. Type 2 Diabetes is treated with medication, insulin, or a combination of the two. A healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise is critical for both diabetic classes.

About Envolve, Inc.®

Envolve, Inc.® is a family of health solutions, working together to make healthcare simpler, more effective and more accessible for everyone. As an agent for change in healthcare, Envolve is committed to transforming the health of the community, one person at a time. Visit their website

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