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

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among American women. Early detection with a screening mammogram can increase your chances of survival.  Starting at age 40 for women at average risk, it is important to talk with a doctor about getting a mammogram regularly.

One in seven men will develop prostate cancer. With early detection, prostate cancer is highly curable. For most men, the risk of prostate cancer goes up at age 50. For African American men, it is age 45. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and to find out if a prostate cancer screening is right for you.

Colon cancer is another leading cause of death in men and women. You should have your first colon and rectal cancer screening at age 45 if you are at average risk for colon or rectal cancer and continue screening until age 75. Early detection can save your life. Talk with your doctor about your screening options.

According to the American Cancer Society, women should start cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 25. Talk with your doctor about screening with an HPV or a PAP test and your personal risk factors for cervical cancer. 

2. Protect yourself with a flu shot.

The most recent data available from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is from the 2019-2020 flu season. In that timeframe, 35 million people were estimated to have been infected with the flu. There were 16 million medical visits for the flu and 380,000 hospitalizations because of the flu. Twenty thousand people died from the flu. 

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 few 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. The nasal spray is now shown 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 annual 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 with indoor or outdoor activities.

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. If you enjoy staying active outdoors, invest in thermal outerwear or fleece-lined pants to keep warm. If you prefer to bring your movement indoors when temperatures change, 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 2023. 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.