As we head into the Fall kids are required to have a wellness checkup for school, while making an appointment for them go ahead and schedule time for a visit to your primary care doctor as well. To help you with your health care we created a list of important questions to ask your doctor during a preventive visit with the help of Patricia Dietzgen, D.O., a family medicine physician practicing at the Kaiser Permanente Frisco medical offices in Colorado.
Internal medicine and family medicine physicians are referred to as primary care doctors. They focus on providing continuing, comprehensive health care for adults and families. You should schedule a preventive visit with a primary care doctor on an annual basis.
Regular medical checkups play a valuable role in your overall health and wellness. Putting these visits off can lead to unexpected illnesses, missed screenings and other consequences. Despite their value, patients may feel uncomfortable speaking honestly with their doctor and leave these visits with more questions than answers. Instead of feeling rushed or unsure of what you should do following a visit, make the most of your checkup by writing down a list of questions beforehand. The following list can serve as a guide.
What screening tests do I need?
Depending on your age and gender, different screening tests for cancer and other conditions may be recommended. For example, women ages 50 and older should get a mammogram every one to two years. This is based on family history of breast cancer and risk for developing the disease following a baseline mammogram at age 40. All adults at average risk should undergo a colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer at age 50.
Are the supplements I take worthwhile?
Many of my patients bring a list of their current prescription medications to checkups but neglect to include supplements on that list. Supplements are, in many respects, prescriptions. Because they do not require a written prescription from a medical provider, these “naturally” marketed products are not subject to the same rigorous scientific scrutiny as prescription medications. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a conversation with your doctor about what supplements you are taking and how they may interact with your prescription medications.
How can I reduce or stop some of my medications?
A regular checkup is a good opportunity to evaluate your medication use with your doctor. Even if you shouldn’t stop taking a particular medication, you might be able to reduce the dosage.
What else could I be doing to stay healthy and prevent disease?
Diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. A healthy lifestyle includes at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week; eating a high-fiber diet that is low in processed foods; keeping a normal Body Mass Index (BMI); getting at least seven hours of sleep each night; and reducing stress.
What should – and shouldn’t – I be eating?
Be honest about what you’re really eating so that you and your doctor can game plan. High blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes can all be better managed by eating healthy foods.
I Googled my symptoms, but what do you think?
There is a lot of health information online today. The danger is that not all of it is accurate. Patients often come into see me looking for confirmation of what they suspect might be wrong after Googling their symptoms. Dr. Google may or may not be right. That’s why it’s helpful to talk with a medical professional to interpret your symptoms and conduct exams. We have years of training to provide you with thoughtful guidance!
When you leave a doctor’s office, you should have a road map for what you need to work on and be aware of between visits. What’s next in your treatment plan? How do you monitor side effects from new prescription medications? When should you return for a follow-up visit?
~MTN Town Magazine
- Patricia Dietzgen, D.O., is a family medicine physician practicing at the Kaiser Permanente Frisco medical offices