8 Crucial questions to ask at your yearly physical

Yearly physicals are important but once in the exam room, time is of the essence in asking questions you need answers to. To make the most of this visit means being prepared with relevant questions regarding your current and future health. This once-a-year consult is your chance to ask and discuss what matters most having the biggest impact on directing you in making healthy lifestyle choices.

Here are 8 questions to bring up with your doctor every year:

1. What is a healthy weight range for my age, gender, and height?

Reaching and maintaining healthy body weight is much more than just about your appearance. But if you are unsure what a healthy body weight for you is, ask your doctor.  The bottom line, it significantly impacts your health, now and in the future. For example, staying within a healthy body weight range can increase fertility, reduces chronic disease risk, increases motivation to exercise, enhances better sleep and emotional health, improves mobility, protects against age-related diseases such as arthritis and dementia, and improves libido and sexual performance.

2. What’s my risk for type 2 diabetes?

Almost 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and up to 7 million people have it but don’t know it yet. Add to this, nearly 85 million people have prediabetes, a condition that increases your risk of developing diabetes. If you have a family history of diabetes, tell your doctor. Ask to be tested (regardless of a family history) and then use this information to make lifestyle changes to your diet and physical activity. The earlier diabetes is diagnosed, the better chance of keeping it under control.

3. Are there any medications I’m currently on I can stop taking or reduce the dose?

Up to 11% of people take more than five medications each day. Once a doctor prescribes a medication, it can be hard to stop or reduce the dose. Your yearly physical is an excellent time to review with your doctor, your list of medications determining what you still need to take, what medications can have the dosage reduced and what medications can you stop talking about altogether. You don’t want to waste money on prescriptions you don’t need anymore. Having this discussion about prescribed medications also includes asking about any over-the-counter or herbal medications you may be taking. Never just stop taking any prescribed medication on your own – always consult with your doctor first.

4. Is my blood pressure in a healthy range?

Diseases such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and stroke often start with elevated blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood pressure matters. The higher blood pressure raises the greater chance of having health issues. The beating of your heart is what pushes blood through your body’s veins and arteries delivering oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to all the major organs. Knowing what your blood pressure is and what is considered a healthy range, can direct you in making healthy eating choices, reaching a healthy body weight, being physically active, and practicing stress management.

5. Can you do a skin check?

Have you ever been to a dermatologist for a full-body skin check?  Many of us have not yet every day in the U.S., about 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer. Experts estimate 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime which increases with age. That’s why at your yearly physical, point out any moles, rashes, or other skin concerns to your primary care physician.  They can refer you to a dermatologist if needed for further evaluation.

6. Am I at an increased risk for heart disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S killing nearly 650,000 people each year. Discuss with your doctor your family history of heart disease and other ways of assessing your personal risk.  Also discuss ways to reduce your risk such as following a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, increasing exercise, not smoking, reducing stress, and how to get adequate sleep.

7. Am I up-to-date on my vaccines?

Vaccinations are not just for babies and children – all adults (parents or not) should get vaccinated for preventable diseases.  Adults often will need boosters of vaccines they received as a child or may need other vaccines specifically for adults (shingles or pneumonia) to protect them. Check with your doctor to review past and current vaccines you may need.

8. This is the time to ask those embarrassing questions…

We all have them.  Questions we’d rather not ask but really should. It may be a health problem related to urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, low libido, menopause, or bowel movements. These health problems may not be life-threatening, but still greatly impact your day-to-day living and overall quality of life. You’re not the first patient to ask their doctor these questions and you won’t be the last.  The important thing is to ask, getting the conversation started and getting the problem resolved.

 

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.

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