The questions you should be asking your doctor during your annual wellness exam

April 06, 2021
Awareness Sun safety
5 min read

WRITTEN BY

Cynthia Alexander, MD

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Annual wellness visits are important for our health, especially as we age. Being proactive about your healthcare can literally save your life.  In fact, getting your vitals taken, can help detect early warning signs for potentially serious issues. Catching these indicators early and starting preventive treatment can make all the difference

While annual wellness visits are typically conducted in person, at this time, an in-person visit may not be feasible or wise for some patients. Thankfully, virtual or telehealth visits allow these necessary preventive health checks to move forward. Virtual or telehealth visits offer the convenience of having a visit with your trusted provider in the comfort of your home, your office – or anywhere. To learn more about telehealth visit mountnittany.org/telehealth.

To help you get the most out of your appointment, here are the top 10 questions to bring up during your time in the exam room in person or virtually.

1. Can you review my medications and make sure I am taking them as prescribed?

Sometimes, the medications you’re taking may no longer be needed. Many medications treat symptoms only, and over time those symptoms can go away or alter on their own, independent of the medicine itself.

2. Does my family's health put me at risk?

Doctors know to ask about your family’s past illnesses during a first exam, but it’s likely that your family history has changed slightly since you’ve last seen your doctor. Update your doctor on recent health events concerning relatives, and ask if you are at risk for anything based on the new information.

3. Am I getting enough exercise?

Regular physical activity is important to overall health and wellness.  Plus, exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your heart disease risk, and strengthen your bones and muscles. Generally, moderate physical activity such as brisk walking is safe for most people. But if it's been a while since you've exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

4. How is my blood pressure?

Sometimes, if your blood pressure isn’t alarmingly high or low, the doctor won’t tell you the exact number unless you ask. However, it can never hurt to get the exact number if you are worried about tracking it due to your family history or your own medical history.

5. Would you recommend any additional annual screenings?

As we all get older, it’s important to be proactive about our health. You may want to ask your doctor if he or she thinks that you should start any annual screenings, like a mammogram or colonoscopy, a bit sooner based on your family and medical history.

6. How is my weight?

Weight can be a very touchy subject, but it can affect your health in very serious ways. It’s important to have a non-judgmental discussion with your doctor if you are pushing the boundaries one way or another, and to talk about how you can get to the healthiest version of yourself.

7. What do I need to do between now and my next visit?

Ultimately, your health is in your hands. You and your doctor should take the time to talk about what kinds of things you need to be doing in your daily life in order to stay healthy — from dietary choices to lifestyle decisions.

8. What important questions haven't I asked?

Doctors are people, too, and they might be a bit forgetful. Sometimes they can forget to bring up a topic of discussion, and if you ask them if there is anything that you’ve missed, that little reminder won’t hurt.

To schedule your annual wellness visit (either as an in-person visit or a virtual visit via telehealth), call 844.278.4600. Patients can also request an appointment online at mymountnittanyhealth.com.


About The Author

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Dr. Alexander received a bachelor’s degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pa. She then went on to complete an internal medicine internship and residency at UPMC in Pittsburgh. She is board certified in internal medicine.

After residency, Dr. Alexander practiced as an internist in Pittsburgh for six years, before relocating to State College. Since 2012, she has volunteered locally with Centre Volunteers in Medicine.

“I enjoy outpatient internal medicine because it gives me the chance to get to know my patients. Many of them have interesting stories to tell, and I find myself learning new things every day,” says Dr. Alexander, when asked what motivates her as a physician.

In her spare time, Dr. Alexander enjoys running, hiking, skiing, and gardening. Her husband, Jake Alexander, MD, is a radiologist at Mount Nittany Medical Center, and the couple has three children.

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