October is Health Literacy Month; a time to bring awareness to the importance of understanding overall health and making sure you understand the health care system. Founded in 1999 by Helen Osborne, Health Literacy Month is promoted by government agencies, universities, health care coalitions, and literacy programs; typically by hosting wellness programs, how-to workshops, or educational seminars.

Four important health care topics include, but are not limited to: food and nutrition, physical activity, health literacy, and health care quality. There are several key things you can do that will help you improve your understanding of health related information:

1. Communicate effectively with industry professionals (i.e., doctors, specialists, nurses). When visiting your doctor or other health care professionals be sure to ask all the questions you can think of; no question is too silly to ask.

2. Be active in your community. Attend community events either in the public or at your local library; thoroughly read through any materials or pamphlets given and request them if not provided. Also, be sure to know whom to contact if/when you have a question.

3. Conduct your own research (i.e., websites, books, social media/blogs). When curiosity strikes, the internet is the fastest way to find the information you need. If you find what you are looking for but want a little more depth or insight, visit your local library for a credible book on the topic.