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Overdue for Your Physical Exam? Four Health Tips from Oprah

Tim Boyer's picture
Physical Exam

In the April issue of "O - the Oprah Magazine" readers are reminded that many women tend to let their yearly physical exam unintentionally pass by and only see their doctor after they become sick or have discovered a new and mysterious mole. In some cases this can be a too little, too late. The writers of “O - the Oprah Magazine” tell readers that missing out on your yearly exam also means that you may be potentially missing out on detecting the warning signs of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure…and even cancer.

O—the Oprah Magazine” offers the following four health tips when it is time to see your doctor for your yearly physical exam to ensure that you are making the most of your most important exam:

Oprah Health Tip #1: Don’t limit yourself to one visit

One of the benefits of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that women are allowed multiple visits at no extra charge to ensure that ALL of their health issues are being addressed properly—including things other than treatment for the flu or illnesses such as diet planning or dealing with domestic violence. If a patient comes to her doctor with multiple health issues, only those most pressing may be addressed while the remainder are shelved for later. Their advice is to take advantage of making more frequent visits to your doctor to ensure your entire health needs are met.

Oprah Health Tip #2: There’s more than one cancer test you need

According to “O—the Oprah Magazine,” do not limit your cancer screening to just a Pap smear—you need to have a colonoscopy as well as is evidenced by a finding that more than half of the new cases of colon cancer were detected in women.

Although colon screening is one of the most dreaded tests a person can have, many find that it is not as bad as they thought it would be once they’ve experienced their first colonoscopy. And, the peace of mind that follows is well worth the discomfort as well as knowing that your next visit may not be needed for another 10 years. However, if colonoscopy is just too much to bear, an annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) that can be done at home and mailed to a lab is becoming a potential alternative according to new studies investigating its effectiveness in reducing colorectal cancer mortality.

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One additional cancer test is for women over 55 who smoke--a lung cancer exam. A CT scan of the lungs is recommended over a simple and less-sensitive chest x-ray that may miss early detection of a tumor developing.

Oprah Health Tip #3: Get STD testing even though you don’t think it’s necessary

The writers of “O—the Oprah Magazine” point out that the fact is that only 30 percent of women aged 18 to 49 reported having been tested for sexually transmitted diseases in the past 2 years, and yet, 54 percent of all STDs―including HIV―occur in women.

Part of the problem is that many health care providers hold bias on who they believe needs and does not STD testing. Be upfront with your doctor and request a test for STDs to be on the safe side of sex. One fact many people don’t realize is that the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world is also a leading cause of infectious blindness. Furthermore, limiting to just oral sex is no guarantee against serious STD-related health risks.

Oprah Health Tip #4: You may want to switch doctors

While it may be hard to give up a physician that you’ve gone to for years, it may be a good idea to take a step back from the exam table and ask yourself if your physician is keeping up with the times and latest tests and technologies. Comprehensive care systems such as the Mayo Clinic may be a better health care alternative for you than a single practitioner as they offer newer and more proactive health care benefits. Choosing the right doctor is the recommended way to ensure that you will receive the best care possible.

For an informative article on woman’s health and the risks of having a yearly physical, click-on the titled link, “Why an Annual Physical Exam May Shorten Your Lifespan.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: “O—the Oprah Magazine” April 2014 issue