Your annual physical: It's especially important if you have Herpes
How time slips by. It’s already March and I’m just now finishing scheduling the medical and dental appointments for my family.
It’s a good idea to check in with a physician on an annual basis to make sure that you’re in the best of health, particularly if you have Genital Herpes. And for many of us who are generally healthy, an annual physical checkup is the best way to go. Here’s a general checklist of what you need:
Shots. Everyone hates them, but immunizations save lives.
For adults, I usually recommend:
A tetanus shot every 10 years
Guardasil for women ages 12-26
An annual flu shot for everyone
A shingles vaccine for adults over the age of 60 who haven’t had the disease
Pneumovax every 5-10 years for adults over the age of 65 or earlier if you have diabetes, heaert disease, asthma or any chronic disease.
Blood pressure check.
I think that everyone over the age of 20 should know their blood pressure. Annual screening isn’t recommended until you are over 50 or if you have a family history of the disease. However, you usually get your pressure checked when you go to the doctor, so most of us get it tested at least annually anyway.
For many women and men aged 20 and up, having a cholesterol blood test every five years is sufficient. If your cholesterol is found to be borderline or if you have heart disease or certain other medical conditions, then you need to have it monitored more frequently.
A necessary evil. Currently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that a Pap test be done annually until age 30. After 30, if a healthy woman has had three completely normal Pap tests in a row, she can have a Pap test every two to three years (but should still get a pelvic exam yearly. HPV (human papilloma virus testing) should be done in women over 30 with each Pap smear and as a follow-up to an abnormal Pap test.
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is the main cause of cervical cancer. An HPV test can help determine whether one or more high-risk types of HPV caused the abnormal Pap test result
Women aged 40 and older should get a mammogram (breast X-ray) every year. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you can get one earlier.
In addition, women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam by a doctor every three years to feel for suspicious lumps and bumps. After age 40, a doctor’s breast exam should be done every year.
I get a lot of frowns when I suggest this. But since colon cancer is nearly always curable if caught early, it makes sense to undergo screening no matter how unpleasant it is. I usually start at age 50 with a colonoscopy every 10 years or more often if the gastroenterologist recommends it, and an annual take home test to check for hidden blood in the stool.
I recommend earlier screening in my patients with a significant family history or those with suspicious symptoms.
Prostate cancer screening
Here’s another one that draws a lot of grumpy faces: prostate cancer screening. Men HATE the idea of a digital rectal exam - and I agree, its not pleasant. But when combined with annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, these are the best tools we have for screening for another highly curable cancer.
I start screening at a younger age for men at higher risk, such as African American men.
so, if you haven’t been to the doctor in over a year, make an appt so you can have a healthier, happier you
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.