Ask a Doc answers questions from Doubtful David
Doubtful David recently asked me, “Do I really need to see you every year for a checkup if I feel good?”
His question was especially pertinent since he had skipped his annual physical last year due to the pandemic. He had gained weight like many have during the change in their routines caused by the pandemic. My answer was, “You don’t until you do,” meaning that waiting until you have a problem is not the best way to maintain good health.
Would you really wait until your car breaks down and leaves you stranded rather than perform preventative maintenance? An annual exam is a chance to perform labs and imaging to screen for illness and intervene early. It is an opportunity to discuss any symptoms or concerns from the past year and adjust behaviors and treatments to meet your long-term goal of the best quality of life.
In medicine we continue to assess the illness and diseases you are most at risk for considering your family history, medical history, lifestyle, and other factors. That includes preventative maintenance such as screening for cancers that are curable if caught early such as breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and others. This also includes immunizations, which change over time and also as you age. Physicians use guidance from the USPSTF (The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force), which is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine that makes recommendations on improving our health. They review each of their recommendations every five years and make changes as needed.
Doubting David then asked when the pandemic will end. He said he’d heard that there are two types of people in the world: those that have had COVID-19 and those that are going to get it.
That is true, and this new virus will be with us for years to come. Unfortunately, you can get COVID-19 again whether unvaccinated on vaccinated, but there is much less chance of spreading or having a life-threatening episode if vaccinated. I encourage everyone to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and get ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations as recommended. The flu returned this past fall, so get a flu vaccination every year in October to not only reduce your own chance of serious illness, but to protect our elderly community here on Boca Grande.
He asked about Monkey Pox and whether he should be vaccinated.
Currently the focus is on vaccination of high-risk men. The virus has primarily spread through sexual contact, but when someone is ill with flu-like symptoms they could spread the virus via a weeping rash and possibly by coughing on close contacts. The primary symptoms of Monkey Pox are fever and painful rash, and thus far the mortality is much lower than COVID-19. Please bookmark and periodically review the CDC website to read about infectious diseases such as COVID-19, Monkey Pox, and Influenza as they evolve and as the science and understanding evolves.
Some final thoughts for all the Doubtful Davids
Please get your medical information from reputable sources such as the CDC. No vaccinations are perfect, so always be prepared to wear your mask and be more careful when any infection levels are high in your community and when traveling. Our world is changing rapidly, and the high level of international travel and mobility of our visitors brings new viral arrivals to our little island more easily than ever.
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