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Published on April 26, 2016

illustration of a doctor on a question mark

Five Questions to Ask at Your Next Checkup

When your annual checkup rolls around, those minutes with your provider seem to fly by very quickly. And it’s just too easy to say, “No, I’m set” when your doctor asks if you have any questions.

So we asked Janell Powell, MD, Avera Internal Medicine Women’s specialist, to recommend some great questions to ask at your next visit.

How can I manage stress better?

Stress affects you physically and mentally, and can lead to weight gain, heart problems, depression and poor relationships. “Because of its enormous effect on your health, it IS a relevant subject to bring up at your appointment,” Powell advised. “When we can pinpoint the sources, we can pinpoint solutions.” She advises letting go of the pressure that you have to do everything. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ or delegate chores.

What’s the best way to reach a healthy weight?

“It’s tempting to turn to quick fixes and fad diets when you’re frustrated,” said Powell. Your physician can help you find the best diet and exercise program to fit your lifestyle. “Not only will you feel more in control of your weight, but exercise is a great tool to relieve stress.”

How do I know if my heart is healthy?

First, it’s important to know your family history. Has anyone suffered a heart attack? Struggled with high blood pressure or cholesterol? If so, get screened immediately and modify your lifestyle by reducing stress, exercising more and eating a heart-healthy diet. “Also, it’s OK to be overly cautious when it comes to your heart,” added Powell. “Don’t ignore suspicious chest pain.”

What screenings should I have?

Guidelines for the general female population:

  • Colonoscopy: once every 10 years starting at age 50
  • Mammogram: every year starting at age 40
  • Bone density scan: after menopause
  • Pap test: once every three years starting at age 21

“If you’re at a higher risk for developing any of these diseases, your doctor may recommend screening more often,” said Powell.

Could I be depressed?

“You know when you don’t feel like yourself,” said Powell. “Talking to your physician about any changes in your life, such as sleeping or eating more, can help you gain a new perspective on the signs and symptoms of a mental health issue.”

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