Preventive Medicine: How to Use Primary Care to Avoid Illness

October 3, 2016

The goal of preventive medicine is not to treat illness -- it's to never get sick in the first place.

A great way to achieve this is to schedule regular wellness visits with your primary care provider. "These visits let your medical team monitor your weight, lab work, and lifestyle," says Family Nurse Practitioner James Goodson, III. "When we see changes in these, we can look for possible underlying health issues so that we can detect and defeat any concerns before they become a problem."

A number of health resources [i.e. the CDC, the US preventative task force, the American Cancer Society] issue recommendations for preventive care based on age, gender, family history and more. Occasionally there is controversy about the frequency of recommended screenings, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid discussing those options with your doctor.

In fact, your family doctor is an excellent source of information when it comes to the types of tests and regular treatments you should be receiving based on your own circumstance.

"There are quite a few sure fire checks that should be performed, and to deny yourself these exams can lead to unnecessary disease and emotional strife," says Goodson.

Regular doctor visits also help you build a relationship with your medical team. They come to know you and understand what lifestyle changes you're willing to take on and which would be more challenging. You come to understand their language, and communication is more clear.

Below are some common recommendations for adult doctor visits. To make an appointment with a Providence Primary Care Physician, click here to find a practice near you.

Adults of all ages should:

  • Get their blood pressure checked at least once every 1-2 years
  • Get a flu vaccine every year
  • Have their weight evaluated for health
  • Talk to their doctor about their risk of Skin Cancer (especially if fair-skinned)
  • Get screened for type 2 diabetes (especially adults with high blood pressure)
  • Get tested for HIV at least once
  • Ask about dietary counseling (if showing signs of high cholesterol or heart disease or diabetes risks)

Here are some recommendations based on age:

  • Men 35 and older and men and women at high risk age 20+ - Get cholesterol checked every 5 years
  • Men aged 45-79 and women aged 55-79 - Talk to your doctor about taking an aspirin every day
  • Adults over 65 and others at high risk - Get a Pneumonia Vaccine
  • Adults over 65 - Talk to a doctor about exercise and supplements to prevent falls and fractures
  • Adults age 50 to 75 - Get tested for colorectal cancer
  • Adults born between 1945 and 1965 - Get tested for hepatitis C at least one time

If you were a smoker, you should:

  • Talk to your doctor about Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (men aged 65-75 who have ever smoked tobacco)
  • Get Screened for Lung Cancer if you are aged 55-80 and have smoked heavily (heavy smoking = 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years – or 2 packs a day for 15 years)

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James Goodson, III

James N. Goodson, III is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Providence Internal Medicine. He received his masters in nursing from Clemson University in Clemson, SC, which is also where he completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Board Certified in 1999, he has been a Family Nurse Practitioner in South Carolina since 1999. To make an appoinment with James, click here.