Do not neglect regular health maintenance during the pandemic!
By Dr. Veita Bland
So many people are so consumed with COVID-19 that a lot of the maintenance health procedures have not been done. I usually try to remind those that read my articles of their medical obligations during the last months of the year. With all the new information on COVID-19 this was not done this year so better late than never.
Immunizations have become center point. It is important that your immunizations be up to date. The flu shot especially was recommended for all this year. Especially as you age make sure that you have investigated the pneumonia vaccines and the Shingles vaccine. Unfortunately, as we age our immune system may not be as alert as it was when younger. Getting these vaccines have shown to be life saving as far as pneumonia is concerned. The Shingles vaccine now known as Shingrix was originally formulated to prevent blindness. It also can prevent much of the pain and suffering that we see in those that get shingles.
Do not forget to get your tetanus shots updated.
Be on point with getting the mammograms done. Depending on your family history they are usually started at age 40 and continue throughout. There has been some controversy about them in the past but most societies now believe they need to be done yearly.
The Pap smear has changed. Actually, taking it has changed. Speak to your primary care or Gynecologist about that. Now depending on which test you have done and the results, the actual Pap smear should be done between every 3-5 years. Your care giver may still take a look down there to make sure the tissues are good. Even when you have had a hysterectomy those tissues should be checked periodically. Check with your provider but I recommend no longer than every 5 years.
Now with the death of Bostwick Boseman there has been more interest in getting a colonoscopy done. Again, here the recommendations have been changed. African Americans should get the first one in their mid-forties or sooner if there are problems. Other groups start at age 50. Pay attention to your bowel habits and make mention when seeing your primary care provider.
All males should have that first prostate blood test known as PSA, especially if African American, by age 40. Though there is much controversy about how often it should be repeated be sure it is repeated, in my book, every 2 years or more often if the numbers are elevating.
So how about the old physical? Is it outdated? I think not. Speak with your primary care provider. Come up with a plan that speaks to you and your health needs.
Make sure you get your eye exams done. Even though I may check your eyes when I see you, I cannot appreciate the changes in eye pressure and by the time I can see a problem the horse is out the barn. See your eye provider and come up with a plan as to how often you are to be checked.
Even though we cannot see those teeth right now, there will come a time when we can. The health of your teeth and mouth is most important. Dental health can be a bell weather of your general heath. Missing and broken teeth with decay do not make for good health. The ability to chew the food properly is important to health. The health of the gums and tissues are important to health. See your dentist at least twice a year and more often if needed.
Especially if you have chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, heart disease and lung diseases, to name a few, you should be seen periodically for theses ailments to make sure you are controlling these issues to prevent avoidable problems.
Take your medications daily. If you are having problems with a medication speak to your provider and see if changes can be made. Most time they can. Pay attention to your body. You realize when things are not the same. Get things checked out.
Do not become so consumed with COVID-19 that you neglect the rest of your body. Your health care is a chronic state that must be looked upon regularly like anything else in life that is dear.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.