Winter is the season for respiratory flu. People are inside without fresh air, allowing viruses to be easily passed from person to person. I’ve talked to four people in the last week who have either a bad cold or because of a fever are bed-ridden. Flu shots help and though the immunity will not kick in on day one, there is a lot of winter left. So get a flu shot. Stay healthy in 2017.
The Doonesbury cartoon is referring to a new study that revealed that women doctors often have better communication skills and that their patients have better results. You can read more about it here.
But regardless of the sex of your doctor, the important thing is that you have one–that you have healthcare and are going to take care of yourself in this new year. Here’s a list to help you do just that.
- Even if you are feeling good today, make sure that you schedule a yearly physical. On the day of your appointment and especially if this doctor you are seeing is new and won’t have access to your health records, prepare one. List your medications, surgeries, any chronic illnesses and know what your family health history is for your parents, grandparents and siblings.
- This is a critical year for anyone covered by THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. Make your appointments now. Schedule tests and needed surgery now. Example: a colonoscopy. Don’t procrastinate. Even if you are over 50 and have no symptoms, you risk a colon cancer diagnosis–and people can die. Need costly treatments? Schedule them now.
- If you or your daughter or your friend’s daughter etc has been thinking of having a baby take advantage of the ACA’s pregnancy and infant care benefits. These can keep the cost of your delivery around $1,500. Before the ACA, almost 90 % of individual health plans excluded maternity coverage altogether. Need contraception–birth control pills, an IUD–make an appointment now at your physician’s office or Planned Parenthood.
- You can still sign up for Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. It provides you with the best affordable health plan–with federal subsidies or without. NOTE: despite talk about soaring premiums and deductibles, around 75% of enrollees still will only pay around $100.00 a month for an ACA plan in 2017, complete with its 10 essential health benefits. Open enrollment ends on TUESDAY, January 31, 2017.
Are you concerned about your health this very moment? Here are questions to consider when seeing your doctor. Thanks, Dr. John Ely.
- Where is your pain (if that’s your complaint) and where does it radiate i.e. move;
this symptom: lasts how long? occurs how often? is getting worse? is getting better?
- Describe what you were doing when this pain first occurred.
- Do you have other symptoms associated with this symptom, with this pain? Describe them.
- Using an example, describe the quality of your symptom i.e. pain is like the stabbing of an ice pick or burns like fire.
- Now describe the quantity of this symptom i.e. on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst what is it?
- What makes your symptom worse? if your were dizzy is it worse when you roll over in bed?
- What improves the symptom? Heat, cold, sleep, eating, movement etc.
Also consider your sex and what annual exams you might need to insure your health. For females: mammography, bone density scanning (also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), Pap smear and the usual blood pressure and blood work.
For SPECIFIC information for women, go here–info is from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
For SPECIFIC information for men, go here
Considering that you probably make sure that you do yearly maintenance on your car–do the same for your body. Your health is a gift. Make sure you do everything you can to take care of it, especially in these uncertain times. You need to stay healthy in 2017 and beyond.
Thanks to Frank Lalli in Parade and thanks to Garry Trudeau