Doctor visits are very important for you and your family’s health. Don’t wait until you are sick to see your primary care physician. Regular checkups when you are well can help keep you healthy.
A primary care provider can:
- Make sure you and your children are up to date on their shots
- Check your blood pressure
- Check your heart health
- Suggest tests for certain conditions
- And more
Why it is important to see your Primary Care Provider (PCP)
- Whole person care
- Better management of chronic diseases
- Higher level of partnership with your provider
- Transparency of all your health records
- Lower health costs
- Getting all your routine screening each year
- Catch health issues early
- Referral to other specialists
- Decrease in hospitalization and emergency room visits
- Better communication between you and your provider
Ask Me 3
Asking the right questions
Some people don’t like going to the doctor. But even those who don’t mind can feel a little anxious about the visit. Why? Well, for starters, you may not be feeling your best. That’s why you’re going in the first place. You may be worried about your health and not paying much attention to what is being said.
Also, doctors have a language of their own. They use words we’ve never heard before and have no idea what they mean. But sometimes we don’t let them know we don’t understand, and we leave the office with more questions than we had when we got there.
If you’re going to the doctor, it’s either because you’re due for your checkup or you believe there’s something wrong with you. If you have a problem, you want to know what it is and how to deal with it.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next doctor’s visit.
On a sheet, write down the names of all your medicines (including vitamins and supplements) and how often you take them. Also, write down the dosage (mgs) next to each medicine.
On another page, write out these three questions:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
Write down the answers the doctor gives you.
If you still don’t understand the answers, have your doctor or the nurse write them down for you. And ask them to explain the answers in a way that you can understand.
It may also be a good idea to take someone with you who might help you remember. Or you might want to write down the information.
Sources: Ask Me 3
Is it an Emergency?
When you can’t see your doctor, you may think your only option for help is a hospital emergency department. The hospital is the best place to go if you truly have a medical emergency. But for less serious situations, MyVirtualMPC is your access to local doctors for answers to your health questions through your phone or computer. Doctors are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. You have the option to go to an urgent care center.
How do you know which is the best place to take your child?
Consider urgent care for things such as:
- A cold or cough that doesn’t get better in several days or a cold that gets worse and is accompanied by a fever
- A minor cut that might need stitches
- A rash, especially with fever
- A bout of vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for more than a few hours.
- A severe sore throat or a problem swallowing
- A minor bone fracture
- An insect or animal bite
But you’ll want to call 911 or go to the emergency department if you have signs of a medical emergency. Those include:
- Any significant change in behavior, such as being confused, excessively sleepy, or becoming increasingly less responsive or alert
- A severe headache or vomiting, especially after a head injury
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Problems breathing
- Increasing pain or severe, persistent pain
- Severe or persistent diarrhea
Good Things to Know
Urgent care centers don’t require an appointment, and most are open for evening and some weekend hours. Urgent care centers can offer medical services like X-rays or lab tests. They may also be able to prescribe some medications.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American College of Emergency Physicians; National Association for Ambulatory Care
Cold and Flu
Take your best shot: Get the flu vaccine. Your best defense is to get a flu shot.
Even though flu season is not in full swing, you can still help protect yourself from the flu if you get the vaccine as soon as it is available.
Who Needs It?
Everyone six months and older should get the flu vaccine. It’s really important that people at high risk get the vaccine.
Those at high risk include:
- Kids younger than five years old
- Adults 65 and older
- Pregnant women
- People who have chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
- Anyone who lives with or is in close contact with someone on that list should also make getting the vaccine a priority
It takes several weeks for the flu vaccine to take effect. And since flu season can continue until May, the sooner you get your shot, the better.
What Else Can You Do?
Even if you’ve had your flu shot, you should take these steps to avoid the flu virus:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Stay away from sick people.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue away. If you get sick with a flu-like illness, stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
Hand Washing Tips: wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water.
Using Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer should have an alcohol content of 60% or more.