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Preventive screenings, immunizations recommended

A multitude of preventive screenings and immunizations created for people of all ages can help folks stay on top of their health, according to Dr. Amit Mehta, medical director of community medicine at Geisinger.

These screenings and immunizations can offer a bit of peace-of-mind when it comes to catching certain illnesses early or preventing them altogether, he said.

“The screenings are offered throughout the year and are available at all clinics,” he said. “We recommend all these screenings each time we see the patients in the clinic.”

He added that screenings fall under three major categories: screenings for cancer, cardiovascular screenings and immunizations.

“We focus on prevention and that things are caught at the right time before it’s too late,” he said.

Some of the cancer screenings include rectal cancer screenings for both men and women as well as pap smears and mammograms for women.

These are done depending on patient health history.

Most times, rectal cancer screenings are recommended to people after the age of 50, unless a patient has previous family history with the cancer. Women should get screened around age 40, as rectal and breast cancer can be more common in females, Mehta said.

Pap smears check for cervical cancer. These screenings are recommended to women ages 21 to 65.

Cardiovascular screenings are done to look at blood pressure and cholesterol. Blood pressure screening is done every two years while the cholesterol test is done every five years.

“You might think that you don’t have symptoms but there is a criteria,” Mehta explained. “It is important to keep a close follow-up and touch base with your primary care physician.”

He added that, when patients come in for physicals and other check-ups, physicians will provide advice to keep healthier diets and exercise if tests do come back with negative information.

Smokers also should keep in touch with their physicians and get an ultrasound to look for aneurysms that can cause damage to blood vessels, he noted.

“It can be life-saving,” Mehta said.

Immunizations on the other hand often start at young ages to prevent infections and complications.

“It is really important,” Mehta said. “We want to make sure that we talk about it and give out the right information to patients of all ages.”

In colder months, the flu shot is recommended, though not forced by physicians.

“It will take time for immunization to work,” he warns patients.

He added that some may get sick after the immunization but it is not because of the shot itself. He said that often times the patient already has the virus and it takes its time to start showing symptoms.

He continued by saying that senior citizens should get a pneumonia immunization after the age of 65. The immunization comes in two shots, with the second following a year after the first.

“As we advance in age, the immune system may not work; we can become more sensitive to bacteria,” Mehta said.

“I strongly advise immunizations at the right age,” he added. “They are to prevent complications or other infections and the complications due to infections.”

Mehta added that these screenings and immunizations are covered by insurances more often than not.

“At Geisinger, we have the whole team who works toward getting the patients the right advice and the right screenings at the right time,” he said. “We always help the patients to call their insurance, to get all of the information in hand before making any decisions.”

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