Wellness Wednesday: Questions for your Primary Care Visit

They’re called “annual checkups” for a reason: for most people, a yearly visit to a primary care provider is recommended. This is a chance to check in with your healthcare provider, ask questions about symptoms or ailments and evaluate your overall state of health.

Writing down questions and observations about your own health before your appointment is a good strategy. Keep a list and add to it in the weeks and days leading up to your appointment. Make note of any changes in your health or energy levels that you have noticed. And include on the list any supplements, herbs or over-the-counter medications you take.

Am I up-to-date on my screenings, blood panels and vaccinations?

Depending on your age, gender and other risk factors, your provider may recommend tests and immunizations to detect conditions early and to prevent against disease. Your provider will be able to answer your questions about the benefits and risks of certain procedures.

What is the best way for me to … ?

You may hear from your provider that you should, for example, stop smoking. That is easier said than done, and your provider can refer you to educational resources, programs or medications to help you achieve your health goals. This is a good way to ask about starting or intensifying an exercise regimen.

Am I at risk for any chronic conditions?

Again, based on age, gender and other factors, your provider can advise you on your individual risks for developing chronic conditions, including prevalent ones like diabetes and heart disease. If you have close family members who have dealt with health challenges – such as a father who had a heart attack, or a sister diagnosed with breast cancer, this is the time to mention it. Talking about this early and often with your provider can prevent devastating complications, such as loss of eyesight and limbs, strokes and heart attacks.

Are my medications the right ones, at the right dosages, for the right conditions?

Whether it is a simple multivitamin or a complex set of prescriptions, ask your provider about the prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking. Together you can evaluate how your conditions may have changed since your last visit, and if those medications and dosages are appropriate to continue.

What should I be doing between now and my next visit?

Your provider may recommend blood tests, cancer screenings or visits to specialty providers. Exercise regimens and changes in diet .. For many patients, the answer will be either in six months or one year.

Healthcare providers are in the business of keeping you healthy and active, but they can’t do it alone. Use these questions to help build your relationship with your primary care provider.

The Bertrand Chaffee Hospital Primary Care Center is located on the first and third floors of the hospital, and we accept new patients and all major insurance plans. For an appointment call (716) 592-8140.