Taking good care of yourself means eating right, getting adequate rest, exercising, and seeing your physician regularly for checkups.
“It’s important to be proactive about keeping your primary care physician in the loop about your health,” said Carman H. Whiting, MD, a primary care doctor with UT Physicians and an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “Regular checkups can detect potential issues before they start and also help you achieve your long-term health goals.”
Whiting provides the following five reasons why keeping a close relationship with your physician is key to self-care:
1) Get a current assessment on your health
Everyone is at a different point on their health care journey. Family history, lifestyle, age, diet, and activity level are all factors that affect your health. “Depending on your age, health and family history, there are a variety of tests that can be performed to help determine if there are any underlying conditions such as heart disease or diabetes,” said Whiting. Based on your test results, your doctor may recommend changes to your daily routines or food intake.
2) Update your vaccinations
Depending on your age and gender, you may need a booster or vaccine to help protect you from preventable illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia. Flu shots are common and recommended every year. Pregnant women should get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis) vaccine to protect their newborn. Men and women under age 26 should consider getting the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. Measles cases have been on the rise and experts are recommending the vaccine and boosters for adults who haven’t had a shot in at least 10 years.
3) Review your prescriptions and medications
Your doctor will review your current medications and determine if they are still needed. If you are taking multiple prescriptions, a visit can make sure they don’t interact with each other negatively or have unexpected side effects. “It’s important to review all medications with your health care provider. Unneeded medications may be discontinued and harmful interactions can be averted. Often modifications in lifestyle or dietary changes can reduce the need for medications several common conditions such as high cholesterol or blood pressure,” said Whiting.
4) Making a lifestyle change
When you decide to make changes in your lifestyle such as quitting smoking or losing weight, your health care provider should be the first professional to consult. Based on your goals and a thorough health screening, an expert can recommend different options to help ensure lasting changes. “Recognizing that change is necessary is an important first step. Other steps you can take to reduce health risk are reducing your stress levels, eating balanced meals, and exercising more often,” said Whiting.
5) Save money on long-term costs
Preventive care and annual screenings are a good investment for your health. If illnesses and diseases are detected early the available treatment options will be more varied and some diseases may be prevented. Thus, lowering your health care costs down the road.
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To make an appointment with a UT Physicians primary care doctor, call 888-4UT-DOCS or visit our website.