A person’s environment can have a significant impact on their health. Some studies have shown that environmental factors such as air pollution increase one’s risks of developing health problems. Environmental influences also play a crucial part in treating an existing health problem.
How Are Environmental Factors Defined?
In the healthcare field, environmental influences are factors that increase the risks of developing health issues. The study of disease often looks at ecological factors such as water and air pollution. These are examples of environmental factors that represent a health risk for a large portion of the population.
The environmental factors definition also encompasses risks that are unique to each person. A person’s home, workplace, diet, and exercise regimen are factors a healthcare professional will take into consideration when studying environmental risks.
The definition can be extended to include a person’s social circle, socio-economic status, and even their culture and values.
A physician should find out more about a patient’s environment to find the underlying causes of the physical symptoms the patient is experiencing. Changes to the patient’s environment are often recommended as a part of a larger treatment plan.
A treatment plan can include some drastic measures such as eliminating exposure to harmful substances or adopting healthier habits when it comes to dieting and exercising.
How Environmental Influences Impact A Person’s Health
Did you know that a quarter of all diseases can be traced back to environmental factors? The external environment is also the leading cause of injuries.
While an unsafe environment can have a direct impact on a person’s health by increasing their risks of sustaining an injury, most environmental factors affect an individual’s health in the long term. Health conditions are typically developed through repeated exposure to harmful substances or are caused by unhealthy habits.
For instance, diabetes can be the result of an individual not having access to healthy foods. This can be an issue caused by their socioeconomic stature, physical isolation, or by the nutritional habits transmitted by their parents.
Heart disease is often linked to environmental factors such as a stressful job and a lack of exercise. Lung disease is another condition linked to a harmful environment, whether it is caused by air pollutants or by smoking.
Environmental influences can also result in emotional and mental health issues. An environment that doesn’t foster social connections could lead to depression, stress, and anxiety.
Addressing Environmental Influences
Unfortunately, not all environmental factors can be controlled. Environmental pollution, climate change, and natural disasters are things that can affect the health of an entire community even though it isn’t possible to immediately address these influences.
Some factors are difficult to address due to limited resources. If occupational hazards are a threat to an individual’s well-being, they will have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of choosing another career. A person’s socio-economic status can also limit their opportunities and make it difficult to move away from a high-crime area or out of a home with electrical fire hazards or lead-based paint.
The influences that are easiest to address are often tied to an individual’s habits. It is possible to rethink a home layout to improve social connections with family members, and an individual can adopt a new diet or start exercising regularly if they are motivated.
A person’s upbringing and values can impact their attitude towards seeking healthcare. These factors are difficult to address, but a health crisis can cause a person to rethink their attitude towards healthcare and adopt new habits such as regular screenings and checkups in the future.
It is important to acknowledge that change takes time. Some environmental factors can only be addressed through major life changes, such as moving to a different area, finding a new career, or adopting new healthy habits.
Incorporating Environment In A Treatment Plan
If you are experiencing health issues, your healthcare provider is going to ask a few questions about your environment. Because there is such a wide range of factors that can impact your health, it might be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your health issues.
You need to play an active part in analyzing your environment and creating your treatment plan because you will be able to notice things your healthcare provider might miss.
All Environmental Influences Can’t Be Identified
The link between health issues and environmental factors is often found via studies that look at the data of a large number of patients over the course of several years. We know that living in a polluted area increases your risks of developing a respiratory disease, but it is difficult to find a proof that an individual’s respiratory issues are directly caused by exposure to pollutants.
Unfortunately, some influences are not identified until a person’s develops a health problems years after being exposed to a harmful substance. This is often the case with carcinogen substances and other occupational hazards.
Focus on factors that are easy to identify and address. A dangerous environment that increases your risks of getting injured should be addressed immediately.
You can also use findings from medical studies to assess your current risks. We know that smoking or eating a diet rich in fat increases your risks of developing health problems later in life. These are things you can address before they impact your health. Prioritize the factors that need to be addressed first in function of your health history and of how dangerous these factors are.
Healthcare Facilities And Environment
If you are being for a serious health condition or need help with managing a chronic health condition, you will need to visit healthcare facilities on a regular basis. The environment created in these facilities is important since it will impact your experiences with treatments and interactions with healthcare providers.
More healthcare facilities are becoming aware of the fact that they need to create a positive environment. Here are some of the things hospitals and other facilities are doing:
- Keeping facilities clean and well-lit.
- Using natural light when possible.
- Creating a connection to nature with some potted plants or a garden.
- Reducing noises and other sources of stress.
- Letting patients decorate their hospital room.
- Giving patients choices and options whenever possible.
- Creating lounges and other areas to foster social interactions.
- Offering recreation and diversions.
If you get the impression that a practitioner or facility is overlooking these wellness factors, look into receiving treatment somewhere else.
Creating A Healing Environment At Home
Living in a healing environment can make a huge difference if you are dealing with a chronic health condition or with mental health issues. The right home environment will provide you with comfort and help you reduce stress.
Rethink the layout of your home. You will feel more relaxed in a home that doesn’t feel cluttered, and a different layout could help you develop some new habits besides improving social connections between family members.
Natural light is great for your emotional health and can help with insomnia. Opening up your curtains to enjoy the view can also have a positive impact on your mood.
Look for small things that will help you enjoy your downtime at home more. You could use candles with a pleasant smell, add some cushions to your favorite armchair, or buy some new decor items to make your home more cheerful.
The right healing environment depends on what you like to do. If you need to stay busy, set up a small workshop so you can work on DIY projects. If you enjoy your alone time, a reading nook or a meditation nook would be perfect.
A connection to nature is another important aspect of a positive environment. If you have a yard, think about starting a small garden. Adding some potted plants to an apartment could also make a difference.
Your Environment At Work
The workplace is often full of stressors. There are a few things you can do to take control of your environment at work and manage your stress more efficiently.
If you spend most of your workday sitting down, an ergonomic chair is a must-have. It will help you improve your posture and reduce back pain.
Introducing nature in your workspace will have a relaxing effect. Move your desk to enjoy the outside view, or add a small potted plant to your workspace.
Use objects that have a personal meaning to decorate your workspace. You could use photographs, souvenirs, gifts from friends, etc.
You could also take short walks during your breaks to strengthen your connection with nature and get a break from your work environment. If your workplace isn’t addressing environmental issues, don’t hesitate to contact management. Everyone in your organization will benefit from an improved environment.
There is a strong connection between an individual’s environment and their health. While some factors increase a person’s chance of sustaining an injury or developing a disease, other factors can play a part in helping a person heal or manage their symptoms. This is why environmental factors should be taken into consideration when creating a treatment plan.
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