When people are asked to explain what public health is, most do not know exactly how to describe it. When I think of public health I think of a broad spectrum of many different ways that keep a community safe during their everyday lives. Although there are many components to keeping a community safe, there are a few simple things that people do every day that help contribute to public health, which means contributing to our own health. Following road laws, getting vaccinations, and consuming products regulated by the FDA are a few of the many things covered in public health.
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I have been driving for four years and public health has been a big part of why I am safe while on the road. Road safety has increased tremendously throughout the years due to a high number of deaths being caused by car accidents. Many road safety laws have been passed to help decrease the amount of deaths and help bring awareness to the matter. Seatbelt safety laws are enforced to keep anyone in a moving vehicle safe during a car crash. In Weakley County, we now have a click it or ticket law to ensure that people are wearing their seatbelts to keep them safe on the road. Wearing your seatbelt is important because so many people are distracted when driving which leads to fatal car crashes. As a teen, I tend to over use my phone and sometimes catch myself using it while in the car to either change the music or to return a text. This is extremely unsafe and can result in a car crash that could potentially injure me or someone else on the road. Tennessee recently passed a law that prohibits the public from being on their phones while in front of the wheel of a moving vehicle. This will help make teens pay closer attention to the road rather than looking down, even for one second, and causing a wreck. Also, alcohol plays a big part in vehicle crashes. People often think they can have more than one drink and think it is okay to drive on the road. I have heard a lot of college students say that they “drive better when they are drunk” which is absolutely ridiculous. I feel safer on the road knowing we have a law stating that you cannot be intoxicated while driving any vehicle and that there are cops enforcing those laws.
The Food and Drug Administration is an important public health agency which helps regulate the safety on food and drugs. I used to eat things I thought were healthy snacks without reading the food label, but now I use the label to educate myself on what things I am putting into my body. Food labeling is a good way to see how much sugar, sodium, fat, protein, cholesterol, and many other things are in a certain food item. It is important to look at food labels to make sure you are not putting too much of something into your body and to maintain a healthier diet. There are also labels on drugs that need to be read and understood. Ibuprofen, Advil, and Aleve are the three main drugs I will usually take to help take care of headaches, or menstrual cramps. I will always start by reading the label to see how many I will be able to take in a certain time frame for my age to ensure that I will not harm my body in any way. There are many different regulations for different drugs in order to make sure the drug will do the job of helping someone healthy.
The life span of human beings has not always been what it is today. In early history, there was a lack of resources and knowledge needed to create medicine, which lead to outbreaks in smallpox, cholera, polio, malaria, and other infectious diseases. Epidemiologists have studied and analyzed the different factors that have contributed to health-related deaths by observing patterns of health and disease in a population. Starting with simple factors, like cleaner air, water, and food, made a major difference in extending the lifespan of humans. Eventually, education increased which lead to new medicines being created to help cure or prevent various diseases. As humans, we are always around other people, whether it is for school, work, or even just going out and enjoying the day off. We touch things that thousands of other people have touched such as door handles, public toilets, desks, and many other things. This is the fastest way to spread germs and diseases to other people. Vaccinations were created to stop those germs and diseases form spreading. Most children get vaccinations very early on in life. For example, I had to get my first vaccination shot in the first two weeks of my birth to prevent the cause of hepatitis B. Getting vaccinations does not stop at a young age either. A lot of schools will not let you attend unless you have gotten your vaccinations because they do not want students to have to worry that they may get some type of disease while being at school. I was required to get a few shots before attending my first year at UTM. Without these vaccinations I would not be in this class learning about why public health is so important or able to further my education to pursue my career as a physical therapist.
Public health is a broad topic that has had an overall positive effect on the world for many decades. Public health can be as simple as putting your seatbelt on when getting into your car to major agencies regulating food to show us what foods and drugs are safe to consume. Many people take these things for granted when they ignore these laws, warnings, and safety precautions on food and drug items. Choosing to put your phone down while driving, following regulations provided by the FDA, and also getting your vaccinations will not only keep you safe, but also anyone who may be around you safe as well.