Your health is essential, and one of the best ways to maintain your well-being is through an annual physical.
“An annual physical is an opportunity to discuss everything related to your health,” says Dr. Christopher Robles, Family Medicine and Primary Care, White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. “Most importantly, it’s a chance to find issues before they become larger problems.”
During an exam, your physician will check your vital signs, including your blood pressure, heart and respiration rate and temperature. Depending on your risk factors, age, lifestyle and medical history, your doctor may order a variety of blood tests and other screenings, including cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
“We like to find out about any health issues you have, your family history, any medications, over-the-counter drugs or vitamins that you take, any allergies, or any other concerns you specifically have,” Dr. Robles comments. “We’ll also make sure that you are up to date with all the recommended screenings and vaccinations for your age.”
Stay up to date… Vaccinate
Because their bodies are still growing, children and teens are at risk for many preventable illnesses. An essential part of any parent’s back-to-school checklist should also include making sure their child’s vaccinations are up to date.
“Vaccinations in children are always very important,” notes Dr. Robles. “It’s recommended that you don’t skip any vaccines especially during this troubled time. If there is a large population of children who miss vaccines, it’s possible that diseases that were previously under control may reemerge.”
From birth to their teenage years, a child should receive vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and influenza. Parents may also want to consider having their teenagers receive some adult vaccines, including a meningitis and HPV vaccination as well as a flu vaccine yearly.
Vaccinations aren't just for kids. Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease, yet approximately 42,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. each year. One reason is that immunity from childhood vaccines can eventually wear off and adults may need booster shots, including:
- Flu: These shots are recommended each year, particularly for seniors.
- Tdap: The Tdap vaccine inoculates against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Adults need a tetanus shot every 10 years. Pregnant women should get a Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy to protect their child.
- HPV: This immunization reduces the incidence of cervical cancer and cancers of the head, neck and throat.
- Pneumonia: If you have asthma or are a smoker or are older than 65, your doctor may recommend this vaccine to prevent lung infections.
- Shingles: Anyone who's had chickenpox may develop shingles. This vaccine is recommended for most adults age 60 and older.
- Hepatitis B: If you have diabetes, chronic liver disease or another condition that affects your immune system, or work in healthcare, your doctor may recommend this shot.