Prevention is Key

July 6, 2017 12:14 pm Published by

By: Dr. Valerie Norton

Many patients often visit their doctor only when they are feeling ill, have an injury or an acute change in their health. However, it is very important to maintain a regular annual visit including full physical examination and appropriate labs as well as preventative measures such as vaccinations and cancer screenings and other advice. Your doctor provides preventive services to help you avoid health problems or to identify them early. In many cases, problems that are found early are more likely to respond to treatment. Your doctor will recommend the services that are appropriate for you based on your age, sex, and medical and family history.

Because your risk for health problems increases as you age, these preventative services are important for everyone but especially for older adults. By preventing problems, or identifying them at an early stage, you are more likely to live a longer and healthier life. It is important to ask your doctor about any necessary testing that you may need. The following preventive services are important to consider and discuss with your doctor yearly:

  • Influenza vaccination:  This vaccine is given yearly and helps prevent influenza (the flu) which can be serious and even lead to hospitalization. In general, everyone should get this vaccination every year especially those 65 years of age or older.
  • Pneumococcal vaccination: This vaccine helps prevent pneumonia. For people who have pneumonia, it helps prevent life-threatening complications. Men and women over the age of 65 should be vaccinated as long as it is 5 years from previous vaccine and younger patients with chronic lung diseases should also receive this vaccine.
  • Breast cancer: Between the ages of 50 and 74, women should have a mammogram every 2 years to screen for breast cancer. Depending on your breast cancer risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you have a mammogram more often.
  • Colon cancer: Screening with colonoscopy or other screening methods should begin at 50 years of age and continue until 75 years of age. Your doctor will recommend the right type of screening test for you.
  • Diabetes: If your blood pressure is regularly higher than normal, your doctor may test you for diabetes, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Any elevation in blood sugar may also require further testing.
  • Cholesterol: High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Men 35 years of age and older and women 45 years of age and older should be tested.
  • Osteoporosis: The risk of osteoporosis increases as you get older. Women who are 65 years of age and older should be tested for osteoporosis. This test is called a bone mass (or bone density) test and is usually performed every 2 years.

Dr. Valerie Norton is an Internal Medicine physician practicing at Magnolia Regional Community Care Clinic. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Norton, please call (662) 293-1591.

This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center

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