This week we’re continuing to explore preventive health and health promotion. Now we’re looking at more of the stuff you get at the doctors office. We’re still focusing on recommendations that apply to almost everyone. In the upcoming posts we’ll focus in on specific recommendations for gender and sexual minority groups. But for now? Just the stuff that almost everyone should get.
First — it’s best to see your physician every year or so for a “wellness” visit. During this visit the physician ask you about changes to you and your family’s health. They’ll do a physical examination. They’ll also order blood work. The blood work looks for common, invisible changes like anemia and high cholesterol (which can then be treated!). They’ll check to see if you need vaccines or screenings too, and refill any medications you may be on. This visit is also a great time to ask the physician any questions or concerns you may have. If you can’t see them every year, it won’t be the end of the world. But it’s definitely recommended.
What about these screenings? Some are a series of questions, others involve a blood test or a procedure. Let’s break them down!
All adults should be screened for:
- HIV. All adults should receive at least one HIV test. Those who are at higher risk for HIV infection should be getting tested regularly.
- High blood pressure
- Those born between 1946-1965 in should receive one test for Hepatitis C.
- Those over the age of 45 should have their blood cholesterol checked
- Those aged 50-75 should receive colon cancer screening. Options include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood test — talk with your physician to decide which is best for you.
- Those over the age of 55 should speak with their physician about wehther a daily aspirin would help reduce their risk for heart disease
All other screenings really depend on your risk factors and your sex/gender. We’ll dive into those more specific recommendations in later sections. These recommendations are also based on the USPSTF guidelines, and specific physician organizations have their own recommendations.
What about immunizations? All adults (who are medically able to) should receive…
- Influenza/flu vaccine every year.
- Tetanus/diphtheria (sometimes including pertussis) booster shot every 10 years.
- Adults under the age of 26 should receive the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine
- Adults over the age of 60 should receive a shingles vaccine
- Adults over the age of 65 should receive two different pneumonia (pneumococcus) vaccines (PCV13 and PPSV23)
- Catch-up vaccines if you were not vaccinated fully as a child or if you did not get the disease as a child. These include measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chicken pox).
If you have a weak immune system, are pregnant, have kidney or heart problems, or are going to travel or become a health care professional then you likely need different vaccines.
You can also check out the CDC’s webpage which has a tool that will give you a list of topics to talk with your doctor about.
That’s it for this week! Next time we’ll start talking about specific recommendations for specific gender and sexual minority groups. In the mean time — have a lovely week.