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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

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by Katherine Jett, MD

I grew up in a small town where my family doctor delivered me and knew all about my interests, my grades and even the sports I played.

This experience is one of the reasons I became a doctor and the reason I chose to practice adult and pediatric medicine in Henry County.  The similarities between Henry County and my hometown have proven to be striking: good people, an understanding of hard work and an appreciation of the truly important things in life.  I have also noticed the commitment to hard work can sometimes take priority over individuals taking care of themselves.

Unpredictable demands and weather on the farm, sports practices and games, family needs, and the grind of our jobs are all realities that can make it difficult to work in a visit to the doctor when everything feels fine.

I try to stress to all of my patients that one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is to visit your healthcare professional for a check up.  Heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory issues are the top four causes of death, and many of these illnesses can be prevented if risk factors and early symptoms are identified and addressed.  Timely detection of hidden signs of trouble is very important and often can only be recognized by a medical professional through a thorough exam.  Although there can be anxiety associated with a check up, rest assured that if issues are found your healthcare provider will work with you to address your concerns.

Each of us should make sure we have had a recent check up, and men, women, and children all have different needs and nuances to their physicals.

Men are not as accustomed to visiting the doctor as regularly as women and are often more reluctant to schedule a visit.  As a result, issues in men can fester for years before being identified.  Simple tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, colorectal, skin and testicular cancers, and diabetes should be looked after regularly as results and warning signs can change over time.

Women’s exams should include cervical and breast exams, and there are important considerations as women’s bodies and needs change throughout life.

Well child check ups are important to ensure proper vaccinations and verify that physical and developmental benchmarks are being met.  The constant growth and change in children’s bodies also make physical exams before upcoming sports seasons and other activities essential. 

As I tell my husband, who seems to be running for president of the “everything is fine as long as I feel fine” club, ignoring the possibility that health problems might exist is not the easier route over the long run.  I would much rather recommend lifestyle changes and send my patients to Cook’s to pick up cholesterol medication early on than to write orders for them at the hospital during a heart attack or other serious medical event.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a check up, I strongly encourage you to make the call to your healthcare provider.  It would mean the world to your spouse, children, friends, and yourself.  That hour of time is the best investment I can recommend for a long and healthy life.

Katherine Jett, MD, is an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist with Baptist Medical Associates Campbellsburg. She can be reached at 532-7341. For more information on Dr. Jett, office hours or a map, visit baptistmedicalassociates.com. If you have a suggestion for an article topic or question, please email her at bmasuggestiontopics@bhsi.com.