Six Questions to Ask at Your Annual Physical

| October 9, 2012

stethoscopeRoutine checkups may seem mundane, but preventive medicine is better than the alternative of not being well. Your physical examination is your chance to stay on the road to good health, so take advantage of it. Make sure to visit your doctor soon if it’s time for a routine checkup. When it’s time for your appointment, bring a list of issues and concerns, such as these questions, to ask.

1. What can I do to improve my health?

Eating healthy, exercising and reducing stress are all ways to stay healthy, but what exactly is the best way to accomplish these? Your doctor is the one who knows your health and, if he is your regular physician, likely your unhealthy habits as well. Use the time at your annual physical to ask your doctor what steps you can take, like quitting smoking or cutting down on salty foods to be healthier.

2. Is my weight healthy?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity can lead to other more severe problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to avoid one of these leading causes of preventable deaths.

3. Is my blood pressure high?

About one in three adults, the CDC states, has high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of having heart disease or a stroke, the leading causes of deaths in the United States.

Your blood pressure is measured with two numbers. The first, known as the “systolic,” measures the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The second, “diastolic,” is the pressure in your heart at rest. A good measurement is close to 120 over 80, 120 being systolic and 80 being diastolic. If your blood pressure is high, ask your physician what can be done to lower it.

4. What cancer screenings should I get at my age?

The American Cancer Society suggests men 50 and over should be screened for prostate cancer. Men and women should get a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at the age of 50, while women should get screened for breast cancer yearly once they are over 40. Ask your primary care physician if you should be screened for any of these or other cancers depending on your lifestyle, such as if you smoke or are excessively in the sun and at risk of skin cancer.

5. Are there any vaccinations I should be getting?

It’s easy to keep up with vaccines when we’re kids because they are required to attend school. Once we reach adulthood, no one is checking but us and our doctor. Ask your physician if there are vaccinations such as tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough, that you should have.

6. Do I have any risk factors for diabetes?

The CDC estimates that diabetes affected 25.8 million people, about 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, in 2010. That included 18.8 million people who were diagnosed and 7 million people whose diabetes was not diagnosed. Diabetes can often either be controlled through exercise and food or through medicine. The earlier you catch it, the better chance you have of reducing risks including kidney failure, blindnessheart disease and stroke.

These are some questions you could ask your doctor, but be sure to ask others that are more relevant to your own personal lifestyle and, if in need, check out DexKnows for a doctor for you.

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Category: Health & Fitness, Primary Care

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Central Ohio journalist with 15 years experience at daily newspapers. Freelance writer and amateur photographer. Storytellers are my heroes, poets my idols and photographers my looking glass.