Your doctor may order tests for you as part of a routine checkup and to look for changes in your health. They also help doctors diagnose medical conditions, plan or evaluate treatments and monitor diseases.
Laboratory tests check a sample of your blood, urine, body tissue etc. A technician analyses the test samples to see if your results fall within the normal range. The results are sent to your doctor for interpretation. The tests use a range because what is normal differs from person to person. Many factors affect test results. These include:
• Your sex, age and race
• What you eat and drink
• Medicines you take
• How well you followed pre-test instructions.
Your doctor may also compare your results to previous tests.
THREE’S A CROWD… THE DOCTOR, THE PATIENT AND THE INTERNET
Health advice is now the second-most popular topic people search for on the internet.
More and more people are turning up for their consultations with a ‘wad of wisdom’ they’ve printed out after Googling their symptoms and finding a bevy of anecdotal diagnoses for any symptom they type in the search box. Now, it’s understandable people want to know what the red spots on their tummy are; what their persistent cough means; or why they are getting constant headaches but please leave diagnoses to the experts, your local GP.
Admittedly, it’s important to lay out all options and discuss all possibilities with each and every patient during an appointment but internet medicine is causing more confusion than solutions. The information overload is created from disreputable sites, outdated sites (medical knowledge advances quickly) and the data is non-specific and not taking into account individual circumstances. Worse still, internet medicine tends to be alarmist, sensationist and looking at worst-case scenarios.
Your doctor, unlike the internet, is able to take a detailed relevant history, conduct a thorough physical examination if necessary and order appropriate investigations if need be.
So what do you do with all this internet hype? It’s simple form a trusting partnership with your local GP and make sure you feel they take the time to discuss any health concerns you have.
IS IT A COLD? IS IT THE FLU?
You service your car every 10,000km so why don’t you book yourself in for a regular checkup with your local doctor?
Many of us only go to the doctor when we are unwell but regular checkups may pick up any potential problems and reduce the chance of you getting sick.
Dr David Yates from The Surgery at Jerra said many people use the excuse that they don’t have enough time in their busy schedules to go to the doctor ‘unless they really need to’.
“Even when a patient feels perfectly well, a regular checkup may pick up health issues before they become serious or life threatening,” he said.
“By taking a few minutes once a year to see your doctor, you can maximise your health potential and avoid many of the illnesses and conditions that unfortunately are so prevalent,” Dr Yates said.
A typical health assessment may involve questions about your medical history and a physical examination including blood pressure, skin check and cardiovascular and respiratory evaluation. Other examinations and tests can then be tailored to the particular requirements of individual patients.
Dr Yates also said that as we get older, the risk of us developing certain medical conditions increases including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and various cancers.
“Regular checkups can minimise the impact such conditions may have upon a patient’s wellbeing,” he said.
To book an appointment at The Surgery at Jerra, call 6255 8112.
A HEALTHIER WAY TO GROWING OLDER
Want to enjoy your retirement or spend more time with the grandkids? Well, you’d better make sure your health is able to keep up.
Dr David Yates from The Surgery at Jerra said people needed to maintain their mobility, health, fitness and independence in later life.
“People over 55 need regular medical checkups to assess their cardiovascular state.
“Not only that, a GP needs to review a person’s risk factors when it comes to various cancers, diabetes, arthritis, women’s health and menopausal issues,” he said.
The Surgery at Jerra promoted a healthy lifestyle and was able to provide Medicare-funded annual health assessments for people over 75 years old.
Dr Yates said the older people got, the weaker their immune system became.
“Ninety per cent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalisations occur in people over 65 so it’s important to get your annual flu jab and the pneumococcal vaccine.”
Dr Yates also said grandparents should make sure they received the whooping cough vaccine which is free for a limited time.
“Whooping cough can affect people of all ages but the infection is most serious in very young children. Protection from whooping cough only lasts about ten years so adults need a booster dose to maintain coverage,” he said.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO STOP SMOKING
In Australia, more than 15,000 people die from smoking-related diseases each year but the good news is it’s never too late to quit.
Dr David Yates from The Surgery at Jerra said quitting smoking worked at any age and added years to someone’s life.
“As a GP, I have an important role to play in helping people have their last cigarette. Someone not smoking is far better than any tablets or medicines I could ever give them and I’m here to help them achieve that,” he said.
The Surgery at Jerra can help you with a Stop Smoking plan, discussing the benefits of various medications and giving you psychological tricks to help break the ‘habit’ of smoking.
Dr Yates said you’d be surprised at how small changes to your daily routine could greatly increase your chance of stopping smoking for good.
“Stubbing out the cigarettes at the age of 50 halved the risks of lung cancer and other smoking-related illnesses and stopping at 60 added an extra three years to your life expectancy.”
Dr Yates said within hours of quitting, your blood pressure decreased and the temperature of your hands and feet improved and after 24 hours, your chance of having a heart attack reduced.
“After just a couple of days, your ability to smell and taste improves and you can literally, breathe easier,” he said.
For an appointment to help you quit smoking, call 6255 8112.
Prevention: it’s worth a shot!
Who says only kids need to be vaccinated? Each year, thousands of older people die or have serious complications from vaccine-preventable conditions like the flu, pneumonia, meningitis and whooping cough.
Dr David Yates from The Surgery at Jerra said that our immune systems became less effective as we aged, so we were more prone to infections and took longer to recover from them.
“Some infectious diseases, such as influenza, can make us much sicker than when we were younger and can lead to life-threatening complications.
“The best way to protect ourselves from the flu is to be vaccinated every year as the flu strains differ season to season.”
Dr Yates said older people also needed to protect their loved ones.
“Grandparents could be ill with whooping cough (pertussis) for months and could pass the infection on to babies too young to be vaccinated.
“A free adult booster is available for grandparents of babies under six months of age,” he said.
Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. A pneumococcal vaccination is free for all Australians aged over 65 and also covers tetanus and diphtheria.
Older people should also speak to their GP about hepatitis boosters, shingles vaccinations and travel immunisations. People over 75 are eligible for a Medicare-rebated annual health check.
If you’re unsure whether or not you need a vaccination or immunisation, call The Surgery at Jerra on 6255 8112.
How often have you heard someone say, ‘it’s just a cold but it’s been hanging around for weeks’ or ‘I don’t need to see a doctor, it’s just the flu’ but they don’t get any better?
In Australia, it’s believed up to 3,500 people die from influenza and its complications each year.
Dr David Yates from The Surgery at Jerra recommended going to your GP if you weren’t improving within a few days.
“You need to see your doctor if your high temperature isn’t controlled by paracetamol, you’re short of breath, have persistent coloured or bloody phlegm or thick snot,” he said.
“Even if you are worried about your health and wellbeing, it’s always a good idea to get a check up.”
Dr Yates said some people were more at risk of serious complications. Very young children, older people, pregnant women, someone with a chronic disease such as asthma or diabetes or anyone who was immuno-supressed should see a doctor earlier.
“These people should take particular care and it’s never too late to get a flu shot. It won’t protect you from the common cold but it should shield you from the debilitating problems associated with influenza if you are in one of the above categories.”
Dr Yates said if you had the ‘common cold’, it was best to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and take paracetamol regularly.
“Make sure you cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, dispose of used tissues and keep up the hand hygiene to avoid spreading your germs to others.
“Remember to also avoid kissing, cuddling or sharing food and drinks,” he said.
Dr Yates said prevention was always the best medicine.
ARE YOU DUE FOR A SERVICE?