Annual Exams & Vaccinations with Dr. Phil Imholte

It’s important to get an annual exam so that we can try to detect problems before they become more significant. For instance, we can check for diabetes and it would be great to learn that you could change something in your life before you got diabetes. Or we can check and make sure your blood pressure is okay and help detect problems before they get worse. So when you come in for an exam what we do depends on your age. Most of the time we are going to do a check from head to toe and we would measure your height, weight, blood pressure and temperature, listen to your heart and lungs, plus attempt to detect problems with any of the other parts of the body that we can.

I will often do blood tests as well. So we would do a cholesterol check, blood sugar check, especially if there's family history of diabetes or in people that are overweight. And then if they have high blood pressure or other medical conditions, we'll do blood tests for that as well. It's nice when you're younger there's less chance of getting something like cancer. As people get older there are different age cut-offs for where we will start doing screenings. When you get to 50, we start to look for colon cancer. Around the age of 55, we'd start to consider testing for prostate cancer. We do a screening for lung cancer around age 55 and certainly we will check sooner or look harder for things if there's a strong family history.

When we see a problem starting, the first thing to do would be try to change diet exercise or lose weight, so you can avoid taking medication essentially for the rest of your life. A lot of the things we come up with and see, they're not scary or bad. We just need to address them and not let them sit there silently getting worse and worse.

Again, depending on your age, different vaccines are indicated. We have a lot in childhood but for a lot of those immunity wears off, so they'll be booster doses. For instance, a tetanus shot is something we give about every 10 years. We will give pneumonia vaccines or vaccines for shingles and certainly everyone over 6 months of age should be getting a flu shot each year.

So another part of coming in for an exam would be to assess mental health, specifically depression, which is one of the most common things we check for. Patients will reluctantly come in for an exam and then they appreciate that we found something and we were able to make their lives better in the long run. I think other people come in and think lots of bad things are going to happen and it turns out its not so bad. All in all, it's okay and important to come see a doctor.