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Our bodies are constantly changing, and it’s not uncommon to be nervous about what those changes mean or how they impact your health. Your personal and medical needs change over time. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are five questions to keep in your back pocket when speaking to your primary care provider.
1. What preventive tests should I have this year?
Preventive health care, like yearly screenings and annual wellness visits, has been proven to improve both quality of life and overall health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle starts with knowing what tests and screenings are recommended for you based on your demographics.
“A good time to discuss any questions you have about vaccines and screenings are during wellness exams,” said Nancy Koshy, D.O., primary care physician at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Almonesson. “Depending on your age, weight and height, you may need to start measuring your cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. You may also need different diagnostic tests like mammograms, STD tests and colorectal screenings. Any health question starts with a conversation with your health care team about you and your family history.”
2. What resources do you trust for learning more about my condition or my concerns?
The internet is one of the greatest resources our community has—and also one of the most daunting. While there is a lot of good information online, there is also a lot of unfounded data and misinformation. That is why it is critical that you are reading and learning from trusted sources.
“Turning to an internet search is not a replacement for seeing your doctor,” said Dr. Koshy. “The best answers come from open conversations with your primary care provider and diagnostic tests given by your health care team. If you are concerned about a specific topic, we can guide you to trusted resources or literature. Even outside of our appointments, we are here to help guide you to a higher quality of life.”
3. Are my sleeping habits normal?
Despite being a rather involuntary action in our day-to-day lives, sleep plays an integral role in our health—like decreasing your risk for heart disease, hypertension and other chronic conditions. Talking with your provider about your sleeping habits can help you improve your quality of life dramatically.
“Sleep helps us recharge our body. It gives our immune system the strength it needs to fight off diseases. When we don’t get enough quality sleep regularly, our body is prone to infection,” said Dr. Koshy. “If you’re having trouble falling asleep, are napping in the afternoon, can’t stay asleep during the night or are extremely drowsy during the day, these are signs that you need to speak with your provider. Together, we can create a sleep care plan that works for you.”
4. How can I improve my personal wellness?
Leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t about buying the latest workout gear and dietary supplements. In reality, a healthy lifestyle is championed by doing one thing a day that will move the needle toward a happier and healthier version of yourself.
“The human body was made to keep moving. All it takes is 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week to help your body stay in shape,” said Dr. Koshy. “If you feel lost, or don’t know how to start on your exercise journey again, that’s okay! There are many tips and tricks we can give you to restart a healthier daily lifestyle. One small change at a time can motivate you to continue towards bigger changes in the future.”
5. I noticed something different in my health since the last time we spoke, and I’m concerned. Could you help me?
The world is full of surprises, and sometimes those surprises come in the form of weird rashes, odd lumps and discolored bumps. If you’re concerned about a symptom you’ve been experiencing or a sudden change in your health, all you need to do is bring it up to your health care team.
“Taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health begins when you can talk freely with a medical professional about your concerns. We are committed to treating you with a whole person perspective, addressing both your physical and behavioral needs,” said Dr. Koshy.