Office Visit: Making Your Health Part of Your To-Do List

Office Visit: Making Your Health Part of Your To-Do List

Lee esto en EspañolBy Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D.

Spring is here, and it’s time to dust off your seasonal to-do list. As you begin tackling tasks, don’t forget to make your health a priority. 

First things first, I encourage you to make time in your schedule for an annual visit with your primary care physician. No matter your age, a checkup with your doctor allows you to discuss changes to your health, review your medications, and address any issues you may be facing, including those related to COVID-19. During your visit, your doctor may perform a physical exam and screen for health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Prevention and early detection are key to a long, healthy life.

Beyond your yearly checkup, you should consider scheduling additional preventive health appointments. For example, a dermatologist can conduct an annual mole check for early skin cancer detection. An eye doctor should check your vision and screen for eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts, while twice-yearly dental exams keep your teeth clean and gums healthy. For women, a visit to your OB/GYN can address reproductive and breast health concerns. Many preventive screenings are often covered by your insurance at no cost to you, so be sure to check your coverage and utilize those benefits.

Next on your list, give your medicine cabinet a once-over to remove unused or expired medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leaving site icon requires all over the counter and prescription drugs to be printed with an expiration date. Consuming expired medicine is dangerous, as drugs past their expiration date are less effective and can be harmful to you, according to the FDA. On April 24, the Drug Enforcement Administration will host National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to make it easy to properly dispose of drugs; visit leaving site icon to find a collection site near you.

Sunscreen, insect repellant and personal care products also have a shelf life. Over time, those products break down and lose effectiveness, and may potentially grow bacteria. Check your inventory and toss any items that are expired, discolored, dried out, or smell different.

Though these health tasks may add to your already-lengthy to-do list, remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking care of yourself will pay off in the long run. 

Dr. Joseph R. CunninghamJoseph R. Cunningham, M.D. is the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

(For more Office Visit columns by Dr. Cunningham, visit The Journal Record.) leaving site icon