The halfway mark of the year is upon us and it’s time to take stock of all that you have accomplished and what is yet to come. While it’s a lot more fun to think about all the things you have achieved so far in 2022, it is important to have a plan for those that still need to be done, especially when it comes to your health.
“In order to keep yourself in tiptop shape, there are certain health screenings and exams we recommend patients receive every year,” explain Dr. Tyler Hamilton, a Family Medicine physician at White-Wilson Medical Center in DeFuniak Springs. “First and foremost is your annual wellness exam.”
As the name suggests, annual wellness exams are yearly physical where your primary care provider (PCP) reviews and charts your overall health. During these visits, your PCP will conduct a series of simple examinations, including noting your weight and height, taking a blood pressure reading, checking your lungs and heart and taking a visual examination of your physical wellbeing. The exam will include a series of questions that may be asked before your visit to get an in-depth health history and to determine areas your physician should pay extra attention to.
“Dependent on a patient’s health history, a PCP may also order blood work to be completed prior to the annual wellness visit,” Dr. Hamilton explains. “Then when the patient comes in, we can go over the results and discuss if lifestyle or medication changes need to be made.”
Beyond annual wellness exams, Dr. Hamilton highlights how your annual wellness visit can help you stay on track with important and potentially lifesaving screenings.
“When I talk with a patient about a gap in their health history or the last time they received a screening, they are often surprised at how many years have lapsed,” notes Dr. Hamilton. “Especially during the pandemic, we tend to not realize how much time has passed and that we be past due for a screening. That is where a regular visit with your doctor can be lifesaving. Your doctor will make sure to order any of the screenings that you may need. The last thing we want to do is put off a screening and then find later that earlier detection would have been a game changer.”
Additional, age based or risk factor-based screenings that your doctor may order include:
- Colonoscopy – Should occur every 10 years beginning at age 45 for patients of normal risk. Patients with higher risk may need to begin screening earlier or receive them more often
- Mammogram – Should occur annually for women 40 and older with normal risk of developing breast cancer. Patients with a higher risk may need to begin screening earlier.
- Cervical cancer screening – Should occur every 3 years for females ages 20-29 and every 5 years for women ages 30-65, when combined with an HPV test.
- Osteoporosis screening – Should occur every 15 years for female patients 60 and older with normal bone mass or only mild bone loss. More frequent testing may be required for female patients with greater bone loss.
“Once we know your personal history and your family history, we can determine what screenings are best for you. Most of these screenings require a physician’s order so that the results can be sent to them for future monitoring and record keeping,” concluded Dr. Hamilton. “If you have a good relationship with your primary care physician, he or she will be the quarterback and your annual wellness visit is a time to review the playbook and make sure you have everything in place for the best, healthiest outcomes.”
Dr. Tyler Hamilton cares for patients at White-Wilson Family Medicine Clinic in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. He is now accepting patients of all ages. To learn more about him and his approach to patient care or to schedule an appointment online, click here.