Questions to ask at annual physical
It's something far too many of us put off -- finding a primary care doctor and getting annual check-ups.
But finding a doctor and scheduling an appointment is only part of the battle. You need to know what questions to ask and what tests are important for you.
The most important thing to do is to be honest when communicating with your doctor. You should prepare your personal and family medical history, listing any problems you are experiencing and being honest about your personal behavior. You also should prepare a list of medications you take.
Depending on your age and personal history there are different tests which may be recommended. If you are a heavy drinker or smoker, for example, different lung, heart and circulatory tests may be administered. Fortunately, medical testing and screening has advanced in recent years to give you accurate results with less waiting.
Here are some preventive medical screenings you should be aware of and ask your doctor about:
*Cholesterol: This simple blood test can tell you if you are at risk for heart disease or stroke.
*Electrocardiogram: Men typically are advised to have this test at age 40, while women usually start at age 50. Sensors are placed on your chest to yield data about your heart rhythm.
*Colonoscopy and Stool Tests: These check for signs of colon cancer and other disorders. This test usually is advised for people over 50 or earlier if there is a family history of disease.
*Urine Analysis: This screens your urine for diabetes and kidney problems.
*Hepatitis and HIV Tests: Many patients avoid these tests because they used to take many anxious days, requiring two visits to the doctor for the test and results. Rapid, point-of-care tests using new Dual Path Platform technology now have been developed, which yield results in less than 20 minutes, allowing testing and counseling to be accomplished in one visit. For more on rapid testing, visit www.chembio.com. (Other annual tests may be necessary, depending on your gender:)
*Pap Smear: All women are advised to have this annual test to check for cervical cancer.
*Prostate Test: Men older than 50 should receive annual exams for prostate cancer, including a blood test.
"Patients are constantly asking critical questions about the speed and accuracy of tests," says Lawrence Siebert, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics, a developer and manufacturer of rapid diagnostic tests for the growing point-of-care testing market. "This is why we've developed new types of tests that can test for conditions like HIV and Hepatitis in a mere 15 minutes, with just one blood or fluid sample."
*You should also screen for any diseases known to occur in your family. After all, your annual physical is an opportunity for an honest assessment of your health and personalized care.