Many people feel a sense of dread when it comes time for their annual appointment with their primary care provider (PCP). There’s often anxiety associated with scheduling the appointment, not to mention actually going to it. It’s worth overcoming your fears and discomfort though: Studies have shown that regular check-ins with your PCP can help you stay healthier, live longer, and even save money.
Making the Most of Your Annual Check-Up
Considering that your annual check-up is something that you have to do, you might as well make the most of it! Here are five questions to ask at your next primary care appointment.
- Am I at a healthy weight? We’ve all heard it time and time again, but it bears repeating: Being overweight makes you more susceptible to chronic health conditions or complications, including more severe COVID-19 symptoms. And yet, over two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Work with your PCP to determine the best weight for your body type and height. If needed, your physician can also help you develop a healthy plan for achieving weight loss.
- What supplements and medications do I need to take? It’s important to discuss your daily regimen of vitamins and medications with your PCP during each visit. That way, your provider can ensure that negative interactions won’t occur. Based on any changes in your health, they can also determine if you should discontinue the use of any current supplements or medications or start taking any new ones.
- Do I need any screenings or vaccines? Although there’s a general age recommendation associated with most screenings, it’s important to also consider your family history, personal health history, and gender. Your PCP can help you decide when it’s best to check for diseases like breast cancer (with a mammogram) or colon cancer (with a colonoscopy). Similarly, it’s important to make sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccines. Vaccine recommendations are constantly changing and also affected by your age and current health, so talk to your provider to find out if you’re in need of a full dose or booster shot.
- Are my vitals within a healthy range? During your appointment, your PCP will check your vitals, including your heart rate, respiration rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. If they don’t share these numbers with you, be sure to ask. You may even want to keep them handy to compare the numbers to past or future vitals. Your provider may also complete blood work to check that readings like your cholesterol and blood sugar levels are within healthy ranges.
- Can we talk about a new issue that I’m having? If anything has changed since your last appointment, now is the time to ask! Remember that your PCP can offer support for both your mental health and your physical health. Are you feeling sad or stressed more often than not? Maybe you’re not sleeping well or struggling to have enough energy to get through the day. Talking to your provider about your issues is the first step in getting the help you need.
Let’s close with two final tips to ensure that you make the most of your next PCP appointment. First, it’s helpful to alert your physician to any concerns when you schedule your appointment; that way, they’ll be prepared to best address your questions when they see you in person. It’s also beneficial to write your questions down. It’s easy to forget what you want to discuss during the limited amount of time that you’ll have with your doctor, and making this small effort will help you be prepared too.