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What is a primary care physician?
What do you see a primary care provider for?
Primary care providers can treat all sorts of conditions and issues. From women's health to sports medicine, PCPs have the training and experience to be able to address a number of health concerns.
Primary care providers can offer:
- Routine checkups
- Annual physical exams
- Urgent care
- Blood pressure testing (to check for hypertension and heart disease)
- Injury treatment (stitches, casting, splinting)
- Medication prescription
- Medical advice for general wellness
Primary care providers can usually answer most medical questions you may have. If you need a specialist, a PCP can offer a referral for a qualified doctor with the knowledge and expertise to treat you.
What do primary care physicians do?
Primary care physicians (PCPs) can diagnose, treat, and help prevent a variety of acute and chronic conditions, including:
PCPs can provide the following routine check-up and diagnostic services
- Blood pressure screening
- Heartbeat monitoring (EKGs)
- Lung tests (spirometry)
- Cancer screenings (such as for breast cancer, testicular cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Development disorder testing
Primary care physicians can help treat minor injuries and common illnesses, including:
- Common cold
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Yeast infections
- Broken bone treatment (casting, splints, braces)
Primary care physicians can play a key role in preventative care, general wellness, and disease prevention for a range of acute and chronic conditions. A primary care physician can offer medical advice, treat chronic conditions and injury, or refer you to a specialized doctor for further care if needed.
What conditions can a primary care physician treat?
Primary care physicians have extensive experience diagnosing, treating, and managing a range of acute and chronic conditions for patients of all ages, including:
- Cold, flu, and other acute illnesses
- UTIs and other vaginal infections
- Rashes, warts, moles, and other skin conditions
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) or premature ejaculation (PE)
- Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Developmental disorders
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions
What can I expect during a routine check-up with a primary care doctor?
What does a primary care physician check for during a routine check-up?
Depending on your medical history, your primary care physician may test or screen for a number of conditions during a visit or routine check-up. These includes:
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Cancers (such as skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and testicular cancer)
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Depression and anxiety
How can I prepare for a routine check-up?
What types of medical issues can be treated in a primary care consultation?
What is the difference between a primary care provider and a specialist?
Primary care physicians (or primary care providers) treat and diagnose a wide range of medical conditions while providing medical advice to improve general well-being. From chronic conditions to common colds, primary care providers are often the first doctor you will go to see for healthcare.
Some services a primary care provider can provide include:
- Routine check-ups
- Immunizations (including the COVID-19 vaccine)
- Urgent care (treatment for non-life-threatening health concerns)
- Chronic disease management
- Medication prescription
- Heart disease screening
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) tests
- Sports medicine (treatment for sprains, breaks, and bruises)
- Birth control health care
- Wellness/ weight loss advice
Some issues require special training to diagnose and treat. If a primary care provider believes that a condition requires further treatment, they will give a patient a referral for a qualified specialist. Specialists have advanced training to treat specific conditions/ parts of the body.
Some examples of specialists includes:
- ENTs (Ear, Nose & Throat doctors)
- OB/GYNs (doctors who treat issues related to women's health)
- Pediatricians (doctors who manage care for children)
- Orthopedics (doctors who treat issues related to the muscles and skeleton)
- Dermatologists (doctors who treat issues related to skin, hair, and nails)
- Podiatrists (doctors who treat issues related to the foot, ankle, and lower leg)
- Neurologists (doctors who treat issues related to the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and more)
- Mental health care providers (such as therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors)
Primary care providers are usually the first doctors you will see for any health-related issue you may be having. In some cases, you can't even see a specialist without a referral from a primary care provider. If your primary care doctor believes that you need to see a specialist, they will give you a referral for a specialist with specific qualifications. Primary care providers and specialists will then work together on your health plan to give you complete treatment options.
Questions about who you need to see? Sesame offers convenient primary care options at affordable prices. Book an in-person or virtual visit with a real, quality doctor and save up to 60% with Sesame.
What kind of primary care physician should I see?
Primary care physicians can specialize in different medical fields. While most primary care physicians can treat a wide range of conditions, injuries, and illnesses, you may want to receive a specific type of care based on your need, including:
- Family medicine doctor: Family medicine doctors can treat a number of conditions, illnesses, and injuries in patients ranging from children to geriatric patients. Family medicine doctors may receive continued training in pediatrics and obstetrics to be able to treat children and women’s health conditions.
- Internists: Internists specialize in internal medicine for adults. Internists specialize in treating conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and hypertension.
- Pediatricians: Pediatricians are doctors who specialize in pediatric medicine, or the care of infants and children. Pediatricians can do check-ups for children, provide immunizations, diagnose conditions and illnesses, and prescribe medication.
- Physician assistants: Physician assistants are highly trained health care professionals that have received a Master’s degree and intensive training to be able to work alongside the primary care physician to diagnose, treat, and test for a number of conditions and diseases.
- Obstetrician/ gynecologist: Obstetrician/ gynecologists (OB-GYNs) are specially trained to treat and care for conditions related to women’s health. OB-GYNs help with fertility, childbirth, and issues specifically relating to the health of female reproductive organs.
How do I find primary care near me?
Right here! Sesame makes it easier than ever to find a real, quality primary care provider in Houston, TX. If you're a new patient looking for health care, it can be hard to know where to start- especially if you don't have an insurance plan.
Sesame works directly with doctors - not insurance companies - so you never have to worry about limited networks or expensive copays. Same-day appointments and telehealth visits available. See the doctor you want to see on your schedule and save up to 60% on health care with Sesame. It's that simple.
Is a primary care doctor the same as a GP?
Is family medicine the same as primary care?
In most cases, yes. Primary care is an umbrella term to describe medical care that treats a wide range of health-related issues. Primary care providers (PCPs) are usually the first doctors a patient will see if they aren't feeling well or are looking for a referral. Primary care is divided into two forms of health services: family medicine and internal medicine.
Family medicine: Family medicine refers to healthcare provided for the whole family. A family medicine doctor is a primary care provider who mostly offers preventive care like immunizations, checkups, and medical advice. Doctors trained in family practice can treat patients of all ages from pediatrics to geriatrics, so they often act as the healthcare provider for whole families.
Internal medicine: An internal medicine doctor (or internist) provides primary medical care for adults only. Internal medicine doctors diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions for adult patients and provide medical advice to improve general wellness. Internal medicine doctors will offer referrals to a specialist if a patient is dealing with a specific condition.
What is the difference between a pediatrician and a family doctor?
Put simply, pediatricians treat kids, family doctors treat all members of the family - from your infant to your spouse.
Family doctors often have a more holistic understanding of genetic health issues that run in your family, helping them tailor care directly to your family's needs.
No matter your choice of primary care doctor, Sesame can help you find quality affordable health care. On Sesame, you get to choose who you'd like to see, for upfront prices, on your schedule. Yep. It's really that simple.
What are the benefits of booking a visit with a pediatrician for my child?
Because children are different from adults when it comes to anatomy, psychology, immune system strength, development, and metabolism. Children can benefit greatly from seeing board-certified pediatricians who specialize in the kinds of care they need. Pediatricians can:
- Perform physical exams and wellness check-ups.
- Give immunizations (vaccinations).
- Conduct speech therapy.
- Offer guidance for pain management.
- Check for milestones in skills, behavior, and growth.
- Answer any questions you might have in regards to your child's development.
- Diagnose and treat diseases including illness, infection, as well as injuries.
Save 60% on your next pediatrician visit when you book with Sesame.
Should I see a doctor in-person or online?
It depends. Telehealth platforms like Sesame make it easier than ever to see a doctor online from the comfort of your home through virtual visits. These are real-time video chats with doctors and providers that are used to address symptoms, discuss prescriptions, and screen for health care conditions. Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) is a convenient way to see a health care provider without requiring the commute and waiting rooms of office visits.
In-person visits, however, are vital health services. Certain conditions and specialty care services cannot be diagnosed or performed via a telehealth visit. Lab testing, for instance, often requires an in-person appointment at a doctor's office. Similarly, some physical exams, chronic condition consultations, and urgent care needs require in-person care. Some patients feel more comfortable receiving their care through in-person doctor visits, and many telehealth services require in-person visits before a condition can be definitively diagnosed.
Health care marketplaces like Sesame offer both in-person and virtual care options. If you're unsure whether or not you need to see a provider face-to-face, we recommend that you book a video doctor visit to discuss your concerns and talk through any symptoms you may be experiencing. If an in-person doctor appointment is required, you can easily book a visit through Sesame's scheduling platform.
Why would I use telehealth instead of an in-person visit?
Telehealth is primarily used to increase access to quality health care for individuals around the world. Many people have a hard time finding a quality clinic, or do not have the time to sit in waiting rooms before an appointment. Currently, the coronavirus pandemic has made people nervous about office visits. Telehealth can help calm these anxieties by letting you receive your routine check-up or discuss non-urgent symptoms without having to leave home.
What conditions can be diagnosed during an in-person doctor visit?
Most in-person doctor visits booked through Sesame will connect you with a primary care provider (generally a family medicine practitioner or internal medicine doctor). During an in-person doctor visit, these health care providers can test or screen for conditions such as:
-High blood pressure (hypertension)
-Cancers (such as skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and testicular cancer)
-Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
-Depression and anxiety
Should you need to see a specialist, these providers can refer you to the proper care team, and guide you on the next steps.
If during your visit, your doctor determines that you may require a prescription for a new or existing condition, they can write you one during your appointment for as little as $5, with free delivery to your home. Note that all prescriptions are at the discretion of your health care provider.
What is a sports/ school physical?
What should I expect at a sports physical?
Different doctors may conduct sports physicals differently, but they will all want to get a general sense of your state of health and well-being.
They may ask questions about any current or past health problems (illnesses, injuries, medical conditions, heart problems, chest pain, etc.), family history, diet, drugs, alcohol, supplements being taken, and menstrual periods (for girls and women).
They will also conduct a physical examination in which they may measure your height and weight, analyze your blood pressure and pulse, test your vision, check your heart, lungs, ears, nose, and throat, check for hernias, and check your posture, joint health, strength, and flexibility.
Where can I get a sports physical?
Sesame is the best place to save money on a physical. On Sesame, you can find top-reviewed doctors who offer sports physicals and pay them directly - without insurance.
Note that sometimes a child's school will bring in a doctor to conduct these checkups. Still, many parents and students opt to have their sports physical completed by an external doctor or specialist.
If you're looking to book an appointment for a sports physical Sesame can help! Sesame offers convenient consultations in Houston, TX at affordable cash-pay prices. Simply search for primary care physicians in our search engine, compare prices, and book with the doctor you want to see directly on the site. Save up to 60% on your appointment when you book through Sesame - no insurance needed.
What tests are included in a standard health panel?
A standard health panel is a routine blood/ urine test that uses various types of analysis to determine your overall health, and diagnose any infections or diseases that may be detected. The most common tests performed during a standard health panel include:
- Complete blood count
- Comprehensive metabolic panel
- Lipid panel
- Thyroid panel
- Blood clot tests
What are these tests used for?
More on the tests included in a standard health panel:
A complete blood count (CBC) is a common blood test that evaluates your overall health by measuring several components of your blood, including:
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
Abnormalities in these blood levels may indicate the presence of an underlying health condition such as:
- Bone disorders
- Malnutrition (such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies)
- Autoimmune disorders
- Leukemia and lymphoma
- Sickle cell anemia
A comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) measures 14 different substances in your blood to give your doctor important information about your body's chemical balance and metabolism.
CMPs measure the levels of:
- Blood urea nitrogen
- Carbon dioxide
- Total bilirubin
- Total protein
- Liver enzymes (alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and aspartate aminotransferase)
A test of these levels can help doctors check several body systems such as:
- Liver and kidney function
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood protein levels
- Acidity in the blood
- Electrolyte balance
CMPs check the same substance balances as a BMP, as well as levels of enzymes that are made by the liver (alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, and aspartate aminotransferase). Levels of bilirubin - a waste product made by the liver - are also tested to determine how well your body is filtering red blood cells. High levels of bilirubin may indicate liver or bile duct problems (such as cancer or gallstones).
Comprehensive metabolic panels are especially important for individuals who are managing a chronic health condition (such as diabetes), or who routinely take prescription medication that may affect the function of the liver and kidneys.
A lipid panel is a group of tests that measures cholesterol and other fats in your blood. These results can then be used to help assess your risk of heart disease or stroke. Your doctor may recommend a lipid panel if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke - or if you have any conditions that may increase your risk of heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, obesity, high total cholesterol, and more.
Lipids are fat molecules in the blood. They act as energy stores and chemical messengers in the body. A lipid panel measures levels of 3 different lipids, as well as your total cholesterol levels:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: Commonly known as “bad cholesterol”, LDL will build up and clog the arteries. Excess levels of LDL cause plaque in blood vessels, which can obstruct and slow blood flow. If this plaque build-up occurs in the blood vessels around the heart, it can lead to coronary artery disease.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: Known as “good cholesterol”, HDL carries cholesterol through the body and deposits it back into the liver, which removes these fatty molecules from the body.
- Triglycerides: When you eat, your body converts any unneeded calories into triglycerides - a molecule that is stored in fat cells. In between meals, these molecules are converted into energy. Eating more calories than you burn can result in a build-up of triglycerides, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Lipid panel testing is especially important for individuals who have risk factors of heart disease and coronary artery disease.
Risk factors include:
- Family history of heart disease or high cholesterol
- Being overweight/ obese
- Cigarette smoking
- Lack of physical activity/ cardiovascular conditions
- High blood pressure
- Unhealthy diet
- History of high cholesterol
Thyroid panel tests are used to determine the levels of T3 and T4 hormones in your blood. Low amounts of these hormones indicate an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), where excessive levels of T3 and T4 indicate an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).
A comprehensive thyroid panel will evaluate your thyroid function with 3 different tests:
- TSH test: A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is a lab test that evaluates how well your thyroid is working by measuring your thyroid-stimulating hormone. Your doctor may recommend a TSH test if you're experiencing symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, including anxiety, weight gain/loss, tiredness, hair loss, irregular menstrual periods, changes in your heart rate, puffiness, and more.
- T4 Test: A thyroxine (T4) test measures the level of T4 in the blood.
- T3 Test: A triiodothyronine (T3) test measures the level of T3 in the blood.
Also known as a coagulation panel, this test measures protein levels in the blood that affect clotting.
Blood clotting helps stop bleeding when you get a wound, but may also lead to blockage in an artery or vein. This can cause a stroke, heart failure, or heart attack. Your doctor may order a coagulation panel if they suspect you may have a condition that affects your body’s normal blood clotting functions.
Conditions that may be diagnosed through a coagulation panel test include:
- Hemophilia (a bleeding disorder that may result in spontaneous bleeding)
- Thrombosis (blood clots causing a blockage in blood vessels)
- Liver disease
- Vitamin K deficiency
If you are currently taking blood-thinning medication, your doctor may schedule regular blood clot tests to reduce your risk of spontaneous or uncontrollable bleeding.
Commonly known as a urine test, this exam employs a microscope visual examination, as well as a dipstick test to identify possible infections in the urinary tract. Dipstick tests, specifically, check the chemical balance of urine to measure levels of:
- Acidity: Excessive acidity (ph) levels in the urine may indicate a kidney or urinary tract disorder.
- Protein: Large amounts of protein in the urine may indicate a kidney disorder, as the kidneys are responsible for filtering these substances out of the urine.
- Glucose: Elevated sugar levels in the urine are usually an indication of prediabetes or diabetes.
- White blood cells: White blood cells in the urine are a common indicator of infection.
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is a waste product from the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver. The presence of this substance in urine may indicate a liver disorder.
If a microscope exam is performed, your urine will be checked for the presence of:
- White blood cells: White blood cells in the urine are usually an indicator of infection.
- Red blood cells: Red blood cells in the urine are a common sign of a kidney disorder, bladder cancer, or an infection of the urinary tract.
- Pathogens: Bacteria, viruses, parasites, or yeast in the urine may indicate the presence of an infection in the urinary tract, kidneys, or liver.
- Crystals: Uric crystals are a common indicator of kidney stones.
What happens during a standard health panel?
Most blood tests are performed at a primary care office, often as a part of a routine yearly check-up.
During your appointment, your arm will be wrapped in a band to push blood into the veins of the arm. This makes it easier to insert the needle that will be drawing blood from that area. You may feel a slight pinch as the needle is inserted into your arm, but this sensation should pass within a few seconds. The needle draws blood from a vein in your arm, depositing it into a vial or test tube. Some individuals or tests may require multiple tubes to be filled.
After the needed about of blood has been drawn, the needle will be taken out of your arm and the puncture site will be cleaned and bandaged. The blood will then be sent to a lab for testing and analysis.
If your doctor has ordered urinalysis, you will be asked to deposit a predetermined amount of urine into a small vial for testing. You will be asked to go to the bathroom, where you begin urinating into the toilet. After a second, fill the vial with the ordered amount of urine, then finish urinating into the toilet. You will then give this vial to your primary care provider, who will send it to the lab for testing.
You will get your results for most tests in 1-3 business days. A complete metabolic panel may take longer, due to the amount of testing needed. Depending on the results of your blood test, your health care provider may request follow-up testing to provide a definitive diagnosis of any health conditions or diseases they may detect.
Are there any risks to a standard health panel?
These tests are routine procedures that are safe and relatively quick. You may experience some pain - usually described as a pinch - as the needle required for blood testing is inserted into your arm. After your blood is drawn, the puncture site may be sore or lightly bruised, but these complications are generally minor and will go away within a few days.
If you experience lasting pain or bleeding, or if the puncture site begins to heavily bruise, talk to your doctor.
How do I prepare for a standard health panel?
What is a DOT physical?
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam is a medical exam required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for commercial motor vehicle drivers. DOT physical exams help determine whether a commercial vehicle driver is physically and mentally fit to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). DOT physical examinations help test the general wellness of a professional driver and screen for any mental or neurological medical conditions that may affect a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle. You must pass a DOT physical to receive a commercial driver's license (CDL).
Who needs a DOT physical exam?
People who are looking to become professional drivers must pass a DOT physical exam before they can receive a CDL. This includes truck drivers and bus drivers. You must pass a DOT physical if you:
- Operate a commercial motor vehicle with a gross combination weight of more than 10,000 pounds.
- Operate a motor vehicle that carries more than 15 people.
- Are paid to operate a motor vehicle that carries more than 8 people.
- Transport hazardous materials that require the vehicle to have a hazmat placard.
What is a DOT medical card?
The DOT medical card is another name for the medical examiner's certificate. This certifies that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to operate a commercial vehicle. You must receive a medical examiner's certificate to be able to receive a commercial driver's license (CDL).
What does a DOT physical cover?
DOT physical exams assess your ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle. If you pass a DOT physical examination, you will be given a Medical Examination Report and a Medical Examiner's Certificate. The DOT physical will cover:
Medical history: You will need to provide medical records that display your medical history. The examiner will also ask questions about the medication you take, surgeries you've had, and substances you may use (like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco).
Physical examination: Your examiner will perform a full physical evaluation to assess your eyesight, hearing, and blood pressure. The doctor will determine whether you have any underlying conditions.
Urinalysis: You will be asked to take a urine test to screen for health conditions such as diabetes.
Most health conditions will not keep you from passing a DOT physical for your CDL. There are, however, a few conditions that may disqualify you, including:
- High blood pressure
- Some cases of sleep apnea
- Poor vision that cannot be corrected
- Deafness that cannot be corrected with hearing aids
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart or lung disease
If you can manage some of the conditions listed above, you may still be able to pass a DOT physical. The medical examiner will ask questions about how you manage such conditions, and how they affect your daily life.
How much does it cost to get a DOT or CDL physical examination?
DOT physicals usually cost around $80-$100. These are one-time prices that will usually be listed upfront by the clinic.
On Sesame, DOT physicals start at $71. Connect with a doctor in Houston, TX to get an affordable, quality physical today.
How long is a DOT medical certification valid?
How long does a DOT physical take?
The DOT physical is a very routine physical exam, so unless any serious health concerns are found, the entire exam will only take about 30-45 minutes. To prepare for your DOT physical, it is recommended that you bring eyeglasses/contacts, hearing aids, medications, or other medical devices that you regularly use. Having this information on hand will help speed up the process.
How do I find a DOT physical near me?
Connect on Sesame with a doctor qualified to conduct DOT physicals near you for an affordable, upfront price. Sesame works with doctors - not insurance companies - who post upfront, cash prices for their services. Save 60% on your DOT physical with Sesame. No copays, hidden fees, or surprise billing - just quality care.