This National Day on May 14th Could Could Save Your Life

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Check Up

Have you had your check-up this year?

Maybe National Women’s Check-up Day on May 14th will help to remind you!

What about last year? Did you know that the best medicine you may have is preventative medicine? And it all starts with you and your doctor having that lovely annual visit. Some parts of your annual physical may not be pleasant at the moment, but they can save your life! Ask Shannon… a yearly check-up was how her ovarian cancer was detected. 

What should I expect at an annual check-up?

  1. Expect to talk about your history and your family history. Each year, you need to update your chart. Did you have any serious illnesses or concerns? What about your family? Did any blood relative receive a diagnosis of a disease that could run in the family? Did anyone pass away? How is your mental health?
  2. Expect to tell your doctor about your habits. Are you a smoker? Drinker? Do recreational drugs? How are your exercise habits? What is your diet like?
  3. Take your blood pressure, weight, and possibly measurements, cholesterol level and blood sugar. Depending on your doctor’s concerns, he may want to see where your excess weight lies, and how your blood sugar is.
  4. Update blood work. Sometimes, like in a major life change, the doctor needs to review your hormone levels. For instance, if you have had a sudden weight gain or loss, have had a baby, or are going through menopause, he will need to see if your hormone levels are balancing or if levels of thyroid and other hormones need some balancing. (A little tip: get your thyroid checked when you are feeling GREAT so that you have a number to compare it to in the case that, later on in life, you suddenly don’t feel so GREAT!)
  5. Check vital organs. The doctor will want to make sure the heart, lungs, and other organs sound as they should. If they do not, he may order more testing. An example would be a heart murmur or wheezing in the lungs.
  6. Head and neck exam. Through checking the head and neck, the doctor can see if glands are swollen, if there are sinus problems, or if eyes look hazy (a sign of diabetes).
  7. Breast exam. The doctor will feel all around the breast, including under the arms, for lumps or swollen lymph nodes. He will mention making sure you do that yourself every month as well, because the number one way to make sure you do not die or have serious complications due to breast cancer is to catch it fast.
  8. Pelvic Exam. The doctor will press on the pelvic area for signs of swelling. He will use a clamp to hold the vagina open while he checks the uterus and cervix. NOTE: by law, a nurse must be present during the pelvic exam. If a nurse is not present, speak up! He will also take a sample (PAP)of the cervix tissue to check for cancer. Doctors also have the option to check for HPV. This sexually transmitted virus is the cause of most cervical cancers. Your doctor may want to check on that and keep track of HPV if it is found.

After the examination, most doctors will require you to do the follow up. When he gives you a card or other information at the end of the visit, make sure to put it on your calendar to call in on that certain date to get your test results. Otherwise, you may miss the vital information to your health.

SML TIP #1:  You are your own advocate for your healthy life, so take charge and get your annual physical exam. It may save your life.

SML TIP #2:  Listen every Saturday from 4-5 PM EST to Shannon’s radio show on WOKV and on-line to ask St. Vincent’s doctors questions that you may not even think of asking your normal doctor!

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