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Preventing Diseases: A Study Guide for Students

written by: Lynn Mason • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 2/24/2015

This disease prevention study guide will help students prepare for health class assignments and tests and learn how to make wise health decisions.

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    An important part of disease prevention is staying active and exercising. Image by Wikimedia Commons C.K. Tse Disease prevention for kids includes avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; practicing healthy eating and exercise habits; and having good hygiene. Good health decision skills and being a health literate person are important disease prevention tools. Being health literate is to understand the latest health information, this knowledge helps you to make good health decisions and stay healthy.

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    Two Types of Disease

    A disease is any condition that interferes with the functioning of the body or mind. The two main types of disease are communicable and non-communicable. Vaccinations are medicines which can prevent disease. Vaccines are made from dead or weakened pathogens which when introduced to the body cause an immune response. Furthermore, good health habits can help lower the risk of developing a disease.

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    Communicable Diseases

    Communicable diseases start with a pathogen such as a bacteria or virus. Pathogens are tiny; a microscope is needed to see them. Pathogens spread through direct contact with a sick person. Indirect contact such as through the air or sharing personal items can also spread disease. The contagious period is the period of time the disease can spread from one person to another. The most common communicable disease is the flu. InsectWashing hands helps you stay healthy. Image by Wikimedia Commons /Christian Hartmann  or animal bites and eating or drinking contaminated food or water can also make you sick.

    The immune system defends the body against germs. It consists of a combination of body defenses made up of cells, tissues and organs that fight off pathogens and disease. White blood cells also known as leukocytes are an important part of the immune system. They attack invading bacteria, parasites, and any other cells or objects that are not meant to be in your blood.

    Three ways to prevent communicable disease are:

    1. Wash your hands and practice good hygiene.
    2. Avoid sick people.
    3. Practice healthy habits such as getting enough rest, eating right, and exercising. The healthier you are the better your body can fight off germs.


    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are spread through sexual contact and body fluids. STDs have serious health consequences and can result in death. Some common STDs are Chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes, gonorrhea, and AIDS. The HIV virus causes AIDS. HIV attacks the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight disease. AIDS is spread through either male or female sexual body fluids, blood, or breast milk. It is most commonly spread through sexual contact or sharing needles. It can also spread through breast milk from mother to child.

    The only sure way to avoid STDs is abstinence, not engaging in other sexual activities, and not sharing needles. If you are sexually active, the use of a condom can lower the risk of STDs but abstinence is the only 100 percent effective means of avoiding STDs. Avoiding alcohol and drugs which impair your decision making skills will help you make healthy choices and avoid STDs.

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    Non-Communicable Diseases

    Non-communicable diseases are not spread by germs. These diseases may be present at birth, or caused by poor health habits, damage by communicable diseases, or environmental factors. They include diseases such as cancer, diabetes, allergies, or asthma.

    Diet and Exercise

    Eating a well balanced diet helps prevent disease. Image by Wikimedia Commons/ Electron. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. It can be avoided and treated with lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. Diet and exercise also play an important role in fighting diabetes. Diabetes is the body’s inability to use sugar or starches in the diet to make or use insulin to create energy. Maintaining a healthy weight and good nutrition helps to treat and prevent this disease.

    Cancer is caused by abnormal cell growth. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. The two main types of cancer treatments used to kill abnormal cells and slow their spread are radiation and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy uses chemicals to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses x-rays to shrink or destroy cancer cells. You can lower your risk of cancer by avoiding cancer causing substances and practicing good health habits such as not smoking, using sunscreen to protect skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and maintaining a healthy weight.

    Staying Healthy

    Being a health literate person will help you make wise health decisions. Regular health screenings and doctor check-ups will help catch problems early when they are most treatable. Disease prevention for kids is taking charge of your health and life to make good informed decisions.

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    McGraw-Hill: Teen Health, Chapter 11, from

    Parkway Middle School: Disease Prevention Study Guide, from Mr. Hardy's Webpage