In case you haven’t heard, Facebook just announced a new health tool that reminds its 2.38 billion users to seek preventative health care. That’s how important routine physical exams are. Placing yourself and your loved ones in a position to combat illnesses or diseases head-on creates the foundation for a long and healthy life. Even Facebook knows this! So, have you requested your yearly physical exam yet?
Don’t know where to start or why it’s important? We’ll address these and many other questions you may have about preventative care. First, let’s define preventative care. It is simply care received to prevent illnesses and diseases while receiving counseling to prevent health problems. It typically consists of an annual physical exam that includes taking your blood pressure, diabetes testing, cholesterol testing, cancer screenings, mammograms, and colonoscopies among other things.
What is a physical exam?
You’ve probably heard of the need to have routine physical exams and for good reason. As we’ve already noted, they can prevent disease and illness. Quite simply, a routine physical exam is meant to check your overall health. Getting your yearly physical exam also provides an opportunity to ask questions of your primary care doctor or discuss changes in your health.
A routine physical exam specifically includes taking blood pressure readings, checking your heart and respiratory rate, visually examining nervous system functions and musculoskeletal systems, testing motor functions, and laboratory tests. For female patients, it may be necessary to have a mammogram, pelvic exam, pap smear, cholesterol test, or test for osteoporosis.
For male patients, the annual physical exam can entail cholesterol tests, prostate cancer screening, testicular screening, and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Both men and women of a certain age should be annually tested for colon cancer, lung cancer, depression, diabetes, hepatitis C, and have vaccinations conducted.
How should I prepare for a yearly physical exam?
Remember, your routine physicals are a great opportunity to ask your doctor questions so it’s best to come prepared. At MyCare Health Partners, we are always looking to keep our patients educated and armed with the information you need. So ask away! For now, here are a few questions you might want to mention the next time you see your primary care physician:
- What screenings would you recommend for me?
- What vaccinations should I have now?
- Am I at risk for any health conditions based on my family history? Are there any changes I can make in my current routine or behavior that can reduce these risks?
Also, be prepared to answer some questions we may have for you too. We take a comprehensive approach to the health of every patient, and learning more about you helps us provide better care. Here’s an idea of what we might ask you:
- What is your exercise routine?
- Do you smoke, drink, or do drugs?
- What kind of diet do you have?
- Have you experienced any abnormal pain or discomfort lately?
- How have you been sleeping?
What does preventative care look like?
There are several tiers of evaluation and prevention. Meaning, physicians don’t simply go through the motions of preventative care. They carefully initiate a preventative care strategy meant to address each patient’s specific needs. The care the patient receives depends on the tier the patient falls under. What are these tiers of preventative care? We’re glad you asked!
- Primary prevention – This tier is a physician’s first line of defense in making sure patients remain healthy. It refers to specific measures taken to prevent diseases instead of curing or treating them. Other preventative measures taken include health promotion activities like encouraging less sugar consumption and vaccinations that help to reduce the risk of becoming ill.
- Secondary prevention – The main objective of this tier is the early detection of diseases. Routine physicals can be impactful in preventing disease progression, minimizing complications, and limiting disabilities before the disease becomes worse. At this stage, detecting symptoms in asymptomatic patients through screening and diagnostic testing can prevent diseases from spreading. Some examples of this tier include screening for breast and cervical cancer.
- Tertiary prevention – At this stage of preventative care, the main focus is to reduce the negative impact of a previously diagnosed disease by reducing disease-related complications. Physicians at this tier work to improve the patient’s quality of life. An example of tertiary prevention can include insulin therapy for Type II diabetes patients or the replacement of missing teeth and implants.
The goal of developing a preventative care strategy is to change behaviors to reduce the risk of disease. Through education, counseling, and monitoring, the idea is to arm patients with the tools necessary to live long, healthy, and full lives. Here at MyCare Health Partners, we make every effort to remove any barriers to change, including employing healthcare professionals fluent in Spanish, English, and Hindi. We are dedicated, caring professionals that provide an array of general and preventative care solutions to choose from. Here are just a few:
- Women’s Health
- Adolescent Health
- Men’s Health
- Diabetes Assessment & Management
- Allergy Management
- Alcohol Screening
- Depression Screening
- Flu Testing
- STD Screening & Treatment
- Immunizations for Adolescents & Adults
What are the next steps after a preventative care visit?
Sometimes, your doctor will ask you to make a return visit to follow up with you to go over test results or exams. In doing so, you’ll be able to better manage your health and come up with a plan to make sure you remain healthy. Take advantage of this opportunity to have an honest discussion about your health.
Haven’t seen a doctor in a while? Have you requested your appointment with us? Don’t wait any longer. Our providers are accepting patients and are ready to be your partner in achieving optimal wellness. Request an appointment today.