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Sometimes it can take a little nudge to get to the doctor when something is really bothering you. When you’re finally at your annual physical exam, make sure you use the most of your time with your health professional by coming prepared with these eight questions.
1. In addition to the flu shot, what other vaccines am I due for?
Vaccinations don’t stop when you’re 18. Ask your doctor what you need and when based on your health. If you ask them, their front desk should help you schedule and send reminders for other vaccinations you’re due for.
2. Am I at a healthy weight?
According to the Huffington Post, “Among more than 7,700 people, just 45.2 percent of those considered overweight (a BMI of 25 or more) and 66.4 percent of those considered obese (a BMI of 30 or more) were told by a physician that they were overweight, found a study in Archives of Internal Medicine.” Extra weight is a risk factor for a number of ailments, like heart disease and some cancers.
3. How’s my hearing?
The most common type of hearing loss is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which is caused by continual exposure to noise levels greater than 85 decibels (think the sound of a bulldozer). We don’t tend to think about losing our hearing until it’s already impaired, but NIHL usually occurs slowly over time, and you might not know that you have a hearing loss until it’s been established for several years. These days, we’re more susceptible than ever to NIHL through headphones, loud events, and even at work. According to the National Council on Aging, untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased susceptibility to numerous other health complications, such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and anxiety.
4. What health issues am I at risk for?
The health issues that should be on your radar vary with age, lifestyle, and sex. Whether you’re sexually active with multiple partners or have been monogamous for years determines whether you should have an STI test. If you’ve recently picked up smoking, you should be more aware of the complications that follow. Or if you’ve gotten into an exercise routine, there are health benefits you may not think about that lessen your risk for certain ailments. Just be open and honest with your doctor to get the best health advice. Gender also affects your odds of hearing loss; the ailment is 5.5 times greater in men versus women.
5. Should I worry about hypertension before I’m 50?
Yes, if you had a hypertensive pregnancy or have a family history of high blood pressure. Reader’s Digest Best Health reports, “We know that within 10 years of that pregnancy, women have an increased risk of significant hypertension, and their cardiac risk goes up 10 years earlier than the general population,” says Dr. Jan Christilaw, senior medical advisor for provincial women’s health programs at the BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. What we do to our arteries in our 30s and 40s is critical: “Eat a reasonable diet low in cholesterol, maintain a normal weight, and exercise,” suggests Christilaw. According to the National Council on Aging, untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased susceptibility to numerous other health complications, such as hypertension.
6. Considering my family history, am I at risk for certain diseases?
It’s important to keep your doctor up to date on your family members’ current health statuses. It’s also smart to update this list with any new conditions each year and seek the proper information about early warning signs.
7. Check in with your emotional status.
If you’ve been feeling a lack of energy or drive or a change in appetite, you may be depressed. Sometimes people like to think it’s just a funk, but it’s good to talk about your symptoms to ensure you’re getting all the help you need to live your most fulfilling life. The same goes with stress levels. Stress affects both your mind and your body. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger, and irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or the common cold, and vaccines such as the flu shot are less effective for them.”
8. Whatever else is on your mind.
Have a weird tick? Maybe your elbow hurts or there’s a new spot on your skin you didn’t notice before. This is the time to ask those questions you’ve had since you last saw your doctor.