1. Schedule your mammogram, prostate and colon cancer screenings.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among American women. Early detection, through monthly breast exams and regularly scheduled mammograms, can increase your chances of survival.  It is important for all women to talk to their doctor about getting a mammogram regularly, typically beginning at age 40.

One in seven men will develop prostate cancer. With early detection, prostate cancer is highly curable. For all men, the risk of prostate cancer goes up at age 50. For African-American men, it is age 40. Talk with your doctor to find out if a screening is right for you.

Colon cancer is another leading cause of death in men and women. All adults over the age of 50 should be screened at regular intervals because early detection can save lives. Talk with your doctor about your screening options.

2. Get your flu shot.

The flu outbreak in Wisconsin during the 2017-2018 season was severe and widespread, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services. More than 3,000 people were hospitalized and most of them were over the age of 65. It is important to take steps to protect yourself against the influenza virus, which can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting the flu shot is the best way to prevent influenza and its complications.

For the last two years, the CDC only recommended the injectable form of the influenza vaccine. The agency advised against the nasal spray because the spray was not as effective at protecting against certain strains of the virus. This year, the nasal spray is expected to work better, and the CDC now recommends either the injectable flu vaccine or nasal spray flu vaccine for individuals six months and older.

Fever, chills, body aches, fatigue and a sore throat are all symptoms of the flu. If you think you may have the flu, talk to your doctor. Other convenient options for treatment include the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin virtual clinic, which allows you to video chat with a provider, walk-in clinics and urgent care facilities.

3. Schedule your physical.

Annual wellness visits and routine screenings can detect risk factors for chronic diseases or conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The screenings are used to find or manage diseases and conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Your doctor will help you develop a prevention or treatment plan and refer you to a specialist if needed.

4. Keep moving.

Staying active can be challenging as the weather turns colder and the days become shorter, but being sedentary increases the risk of weight gain. Adapt your workout plan to the changing season. Consider a group exercise class or swimming at an indoor pool. Make sure your routine includes a warm up and a cool down period. This will reduce your risk of injury.

Spending time outside can also boost your mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, happens during the changing of seasons and presents with depressive symptoms. If you are experiencing changes in mood, talk with your provider. The exact cause is unclear, but some researchers believe the condition is caused by a vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D.

5. Check your deductible.

As the end of the calendar year approaches, it is a good time to check in with your health insurance company and find out where you stand in terms of hitting your deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. Both will reset in 2019. Now might be a good time to schedule any medical treatment you have been delaying as insurance may cover a large portion of the cost. Be sure to get an estimate to help you understand the true cost. The Froedtert & MCW health network’s billing department has a team of health care cost estimators who can help.

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