Do you need a primary care doctor? Even if you already have a slew of specialists, take a look at the top questions to ask if you don't also have a PCP.
What Vaccinations Do You Need?
Immunizations aren't just for babies and young children. People of all ages need vaccinations to reduce the risk and spread of disease. As an adult, it's likely you already have immunizations (such as the polio vaccine) from childhood. But you may also need these shots:
- Tetanus. If you never received a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or Td (tetanus-diphtheria) vaccine as child, you need one now. After an initial three-dose series (whether in childhood or later in life), adults need this vaccine every 10 years.
- Shingles. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans will develop shingles. The shingles vaccine is recommended for healthy adults ages 50 and over.
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide. This vaccine protects adults 65 and older against pneumococcal diseases such as meningitis and some bloodstream infections.
- Pneumococcal conjugate. Older adults need this vaccine to protect against pneumococcal disease and pneumonia.
- Flu. An annual flu shot can reduce the risks of this viral infection.
Talk to your family physician about which vaccinations are right for you. The specific immunizations you need depend on your vaccination history, age, and physical health.
Do You Need Routine Screenings?
When was the last time you had a diabetes screening or a cholesterol test? Routine healthcare screenings can detect chronic conditions and diseases before they go from minor issues to major problems. An annual wellness visit with a PCP may include screenings for:
- Hypertension. The medical provider will take your blood pressure during the visit. Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If you have elevated blood pressure, the doctor can recommend a treatment plan that might include lifestyle changes or prescribed medication.
- Diabetes. Lifestyle factors such as diet and activity can contribute to adult-onset type 2 diabetes. An annual wellness visit allows the doctor to discuss your overall health and determine if you need further blood testing for diabetes.
- High cholesterol. You may have no symptoms of this common and potentially dangerous condition. A doctor can order a blood test to screen for your risk.
Along with these options, a PCP may order additional tests—such as thyroid function or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screenings. The specific tests the doctor orders will depend on your age, health status, and medical history.
Whether you need vaccinations, haven't had a blood pressure check in years, or need bloodwork done, primary care doctors are the first stop on the road to better health. If you haven't seen a PCP in over a year, schedule an appointment for an adult wellness visit right now.