As we round up the year 2019, give yourself the gift of peace of mind by calling your primary care doctor to set up an appointment for your annual physical. As a primary care doctor for many years, I know very well that a vast majority of people don’t do the recommended once a year full physical, but there are so many reasons you should! Early detection and intervention is so important for a lot of the diseases and chronic illnesses that could shorten your lifespan or affect your quality of life.
Here’s just a few reasons your annual physical is important:
- First of all, it gives you a chance to build your relationship with your primary care physician. When you do that, together we can really track your health! This allows for me to more easily catch any deviations in your testing or changes in your health that should be looked into more deeply.
- Your annual is the best time to identify any issues that could become larger medical concerns in the future, and to check for any diseases that need to be treated now. We will do screenings to check your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, because these health markers rarely show any signs or symptoms before they become severe concerns.
- During your annual physical you should be sure to bring up any concerns you have about your health, and note any ongoing pain or symptoms you’re experiencing.
- This is the time to get all of your immunizations or vaccinations.
- Your primary care can recommend and give you referrals for the proper tests to have for your age group at this time.
- As concierge doctors, we have a focus on preventative care as well, so during your annual physical we will ask a lot of lifestyle questions to help guide you into a healthy diet and exercise routine too. Believe it or not, this is a great time to set health goals with your doctor too! After all, isn’t your overall goal to live a long, healthy life with good quality of life?
Annual Health Screenings are Key to Reaching Your Goals
Depending on your age, your family health history and your current lifestyle, a primary care doctor will order a variety of tests and other screenings during your annual physical. These will usually include:
- Blood pressure screening
- Blood glucose screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Osteoporosis screening
- Body Mass index calculation
- Routine Cancer screenings—this may include ordering a mammogram, colonoscopy, prostate exam, skin cancer screening and pap smear
Immunizations Need Updating
As an adult, we often forget that we need annual vaccinations too. Some immunizations become more important as we age, and many of them require a booster shot too. As primary care doctors, we will review your vaccination history and risk factors for certain diseases, and we may recommend some specific immunizations for you. These may include:
- Flu shot
- HPV vaccine: While this has been lauded in the media as a vaccine for girls and boys aged 11 and 12, the Centers for Disease Control now recommend a booster vaccination for women and men up to the age of 26, and for those adults who never received the vaccine when they were young, it’s recommended adults aged 27-45 might benefit from it too.
- Hepatitis B vaccine
- Tdap vaccine: this is a combination vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough, and it requires a booster for adults.
- Pneumonia vaccine
- Shingles vaccine: this often overlooked vaccine is extremely important for adults aged 50+.
Noting Any Changes to Your Health
Why do you need your physical annually? Because when it comes to your health, so much can change in a year. Meeting with us, as your primary care physicians helps us to create a health baseline, so that it becomes obvious if you have something going wrong in the future. So it allows us to create a clear picture of your health every year. A lot of your “annual physical” will actually be us asking you questions and you answering them, and then you get a chance to ask questions and we will answer them. Here’s what we will talk about:
- Allergies: Do you have any new symptoms of allergies? Believe it or not, some allergies just show up, and may not be the same things you were allergic to in your youth.
- Changes in medication: You may have a chronic disease that you see a specialist about, such as seeing an endocrinologist for diabetes or thyroid disease. Or, you may have decided to try the latest vitamin or supplement being touted in the media. So we will ask you to bring a list of up to date medications and supplements and what dosage you are taking daily.
- Lifestyle history: We know you don’t like talking about sex, drugs and rock and roll with your doctor, but the truth is, we need to know about your lifestyle habits, such as smoking, alcohol intake, sexual activity, and anything else that could affect your health over the long term, so it’s best to just own up to whatever you are doing so we can keep an eye on your health.
- Family history: We may ask about any new health conditions others in your family are dealing with, in order to know what genetic medical conditions may run in your family as this may require earlier screenings for certain cancers and other chronic genetic diseases.
- Mental health—Conditions such as anxiety or depression should not be ignored, so we may ask questions to see if you are suffering from these or other mental health issues in order to refer you to a specialist for them.
As we close out this year, we wish you a healthy and happy 2020! Do the best thing you can do for your health and schedule your annual physical today!! Your health and well-being is our biggest priority! Call (239) 500-6363 for an appointment.