I’ll be turning 50 soon and I can tell. I wake up 4 times nightly to pee )so my prostate is growing.’ My hair is thinning. Joints hurt. I shrunk from 5’9″ to 5’8″ based on my last physical. While I am researching anti-aging medicine, I am preparing for the slew of tests indicated at age 50.
In no particular order if you are 50 or older you should have these tests:
Screening colonoscopy for colon cancer every 10 years for those at normal risk of colon cancer. Alternate options which I am considering is Cologuard which is a stool based DNA non invasive test with 95% accuracy done every 3 years instead of colonoscopy (unless of course the test is positive in which case you need colonoscopy).
Screening Chset CT Scan (age 55 to 77) if you have ever smoked 30 packs of cigarettes in your life or have smoked any cigarettes in last 15 years.
Prostate testing in men annually–debatable, talk to your doctor.
Checking your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar annually
Pap smear every 5 years in women
Mammogram annually for women
Annual skin exam by skin doctor
Make sure vaccines are up to date–these get confusing and probably warrant another blog/article–most common is tetanus booster with pertussis every 10 years
If anyone knows a good anti-aging doctor, let me know!
First let me say if you are reading this blog and comment or follow me on social media and are a new patient with no health insurance, I’ll provide you free medical care for 3-6 months within the scope of my specialty. Why? Quite simply if I can afford to run a medical practice with zero income from some new patients, perhaps large insurance companies can do the same?
Anthem made 1.1 Billion Dollars in 2018 while dropping 888 thousand clients. Way to trim the fat.
If health care providers provide medical care and patients receive medical care why do the middle men–health insurance companies–make all the money? This complex question which seemed innocent in 1917 has snowballed to the point I pay over $2000 dollars a month for health insurance for me and my daughter which we sometimes use. But not $2000 a month! We are healthy fortunately.
So my proposal to Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, the biggest insurance company in New York City: For every free patient I treat, you treat a free patient like a 9/11 victim, a pregnant mom, anyone warranting care.
If we both lose a 100 million dollars monthly then we regroup but if everything goes smoothly, become a nonprofit that gives out smoothies!
Hope to see some new patients soon as well as people commenting on my blog.
My primary care physician is a very bright internist in his early 70s who I saw recently for a routine physical exam. He examined my head, neck, chest, and abdomen and then, putting on gloves and grabbing some KY jelly, told me to bend over for a prostate exam.
‘Prostate exam!’ I said, ‘Why? I have no prostate or urinary issues, no personal or family history of prostate cancer, and don’t see the need.’
‘Just being thorough,’ he replied.
While I like my doctor, there is thorough and then there is ‘too thorough.’ Moreover, I reminded him, routine prostate exams are no longer indicated [Source: US Preventive Task Force].
‘We’ll skip the prostate exam.’ I said. He shrugged as if to say he wasn’t doing his job properly. He then checked my legs and the exam was over.
While some of you may like the comprehensive check every nook and cranny exam, I personally don’t nor do I recommend or perform them. I stick to what the data supports. Why some patients seem disappointed that I haven’t probed every orifice is beyond me but to each their own.
Next time you’re in for an adult physical, here are tests which are no longer considered routine or necessary unless, of course, the doctor feels they are needed based on your medical history, symptoms, or other risk factors.
Digital Rectal Exam (meaning sticking a finger into your anus and rectum)
Abdominal exam for pancreatic cancer, liver enlargement, or spleen enlargement
Lymph node palpation
Back exam for determining mobility
Checking reflexes in arms and legs
Breast exams need not be done if more sophisticated tests like mammograms are available
Some testing on routine physical exam are still being reviewed but as I peruse the medical literature, it seems that, to my old school doctor’s chagrin, much of the physical exam in adults is probably not helpful and may even lead to false positives.
Certainly some patients will swear that their doctor caught a disease by poking around or hammering on the knees with a reflex hammer and all I can say is: God bless those doctors. I’m interested in the facts here, just the facts.
‘I don’t need the flu vaccine,’ said a mid 30s healthy female patient to me yesterday, ‘it always makes me sick plus I can count on herd immunity.’
My patients are well read, opinionated, and know plenty of medical jargon to make their point. Herd immunity, if you’re wondering, means that if everyone else around you is vaccinated and immune to a disease, the chances of them giving it to you is very low.
Let me also add the influenza vaccines do not give live virus, just the proteins of the virus to illicit an antibody and immune response if you are exposed to the virus. The immune response caused by the vaccine results in some cold symptoms like fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, aches/pains, but DOES NOT cause the flu.
So why all the hype about the flu vaccine?
There are several answers:
The media often has nothing really news worthy so given the mantra’ if it bleeds it reads’ they can always turn to the dangers of the latest deadly flu virus bound to land you on a ventilator before you can change the channel. Remember all the media hype about Avian Flu (H5N1) about 5-10 years ago. Turned out to be nothing. And the dreaded Swine Flu of a few years ago infected the airwaves aggressively (and fortunately did not infect many people). If you really want information about influenza ask your doctor, check the CDC and WHO websites, and ignore the publish or perish journalists.
Historically, certain strain of influenza were actually quite deadly. the most infamous in Spanish flu, an aggressive form of H1NI influenza virus that spread quickly and was unusual in that it killed more young health adults (ages 20-40) than the young or elderly. Over 100 years later, this pandemic killed more people than those that died in WWI.
If another aggressive flu virus rears its head, the flu vaccine does a nice job at keeping you alive–presuming the CDC and WHO have guesstimated the right 3 or 4 viruses to put into the vaccine that season.
I recommend all my patients get the flu vaccine. I get it annually and have never had the flu (which let me remind you results in days of miserable fever and chills and 2-4 weeks to recover…this isa cold on steroids).
My flu vaccine of choice is the quadrivalent vaccine (meaning it has four flu virus proteins in it) while the classical influenza vaccine has three. If you are worried about mercury (thimerosal) get the preservative free vaccine. If you are worried about autism note there is little if any data to support vaccines causing autism but it is up to you. If you are worried the shot will hurt, make sure the doctor injects with a brand new needle (that is, not the same needle used to draw up the vaccine from the vial as this will blunt the end of the needle and cause more pain).
After the flu vaccine, you can take Tylenol or Advil or Alleve and can expect your arm to be sore for a day or three.
Take home message: get the flu vaccine yearly and stop wasting your time and losing sleep over the myriad of journalists that have nothing better to do than scare you about so they can make a living.