Prevention Is The Best Medicine

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - April 09, 2008
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I recently changed doctors and in doing so needed to fill out new paperwork with questions about my health.

Simple, right? Well, when I got to a section on the form that asked me to list different vaccinations and screenings that I may have gotten, and when, I was stuck.

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I ended up filling all the blanks with question marks or guesses. All I could say for sure is that it’s been a long time since I’ve had a shot of any kind. And I’m thinking I’m probably due for some kind of physical examination, but I’m not sure which one.

“It’s good to keep updated medical records because a lot of times there are other doctors involved, not just your primary care physician,” says Dr. Jeremy Chun, a geriatrician at The Queen’s Medical Center. “Your primary care physician holds all of your records and you should be able to get the information from them, especially the dates of your vaccinations and your tests.”

If you can’t remember the last time you went to the doctor, it’s probably because you’re in good health. Or so you think. The truth is that you do not need to be sick to see your doctor. In fact you should visit your doctor regularly even if you feel fine.

“A lot of diseases and medical conditions are silent, meaning you don’t know you have them until something bad happens,” says Chun. “Vaccinations are good for preventing future illnesses and screenings are good to detect any conditions that a person already has but they just don’t know about, for example, osteoporosis. No one would know that they have a brittle bone unless they get a bone density test.

“Also, you don’t know if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol unless you have it tested. A lot of the things we screen for, there usually are no symptoms.

“And certain types of cancer can be detected during a physical exam, such as breast cancer and, of course, prostate cancer for men.”

Chun recommends for a healthy adult in their 20s to get a physical once a year and then more often as things are found.

“Even though they feel that they’re healthy we still need them to come in,” he says. “How often depends on your age and if you already have any chronic medical condition to begin with.

“In general, it’s just good to get your preventive screenings and checkups because a lot of times you don’t feel it until it’s too late.”

So, if you’re like me and feel like you are probably due for a doctor visit, here’s a chart of preventive care services and the recommended times we should or should’ve had them done and how often.




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