June is Men’s Health Month. It’s a good time to schedule your annual wellness visit with your primary care provider.
“Even if you have no symptoms you’re concerned about, a wellness visit can catch health problems early when they are easier to treat,” says Safina Koreishi, M.D., medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO.
It’ll keep you up to date on vaccinations and other preventive services to help you stay well for the coming year.
“Your primary care provider will set aside extra time for the wellness visits to go over your health conditions and medications in detail, and work with you to make an individual care plan to better meet your needs,” Dr. Koreishi says. “Depending on your age and risk factors, you may be screened for diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, sleep problems, depression, anxiety and use of alcohol and other drugs.”
Here are some of the issues that will likely be covered during the wellness visit.
• Do I need cancer screening? You may be due for colorectal cancer screening, either with a take-home test or possibly a colonoscopy. Screening for prostate cancer is not universally recommended, unless you have symptoms or concerns. You should discuss any concerns with your doctor.
• How is my blood pressure? Your provider will check your blood pressure and other risk factors for stroke and heart disease during the wellness visit and may recommend treatment. Between visits, you can track your own blood pressure with a home measurement cuff or visit one of the many pharmacies where you can check your own blood pressure at no cost. Checking blood pressure several times a year is a good idea because high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack, and typically shows no symptoms.
• Are my medications still working? Be sure to pack up all the medications you are currently taking, whether prescriptions or over-the-counter, and bring them in for your visit. Also be sure to bring a list of any previously prescribed medications you have stopped taking.
CareOregon provides a handy tool for keeping track of medications, and how you think they are working for you. It’s a nice aid for your discussion with your doctor.
• Is my diabetes under control? If you have diabetes, you’ll have a variety of tests your doctor will want you to have regularly.
Your doctor also is a good resource to learn about things you can do every day to keep your diabetes under control — or keep it away if you don’t have it. Exercise, nutrition and weight loss all are factors.
• Are my immunizations up to date? There are vaccines that need to be renewed at periodically and, of course, the flu shot that you need every year.
• What about alcohol and other controlled substances? This is a question your doctor may raise every time, even if you haven’t brought it up. Research says it is a good way to talk about healthy levels of consumption.
• How is my dental (oral) health? More and more, you’ll be hearing about dental care and oral health even in clinics for your physical health. That’s because good oral health is linked to an improvement in physical conditions, such as diabetes.
“We recommend seeing a dentist every year, regardless of whether you have had trouble with your teeth in the past,” Dr. Koreishi says. “Your dentist can check for gum disease, cancers of the mouth and other conditions that contribute to your overall health.”