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    FAQs

    Wellness and Prevention

    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.

    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
    - Immunizations
    - 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:

    Check-ups & Screenings

    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


    Illness and injury care

    Primary care physicians can help treat minor injuries and common illnesses, including:
    - Common cold
    - Flu
    - Asthma
    - Migraines
    - Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
    - Yeast infections
    - Rashes
    - Broken bone treatment (casting, splints, braces)


    Preventative care and general wellness

    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 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.

    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 can I expect during a routine check-up with a primary care doctor?

    Every check-up is a little different depending on your health, but generally speaking, you can expect a full run-through of your medical history, a physical exam, and some labs, if needed. As you get older, you should expect a screening for colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, as well.

    What does a primary care physician check for?

    Depending on the doctor, and the medical history of the patient, a primary care physician may test or screen for a number of conditions. During an adult check-up, a primary care physician may conduct general health screenings for conditions such as:
    -Heart disease
    -High blood pressure (hypertension)
    -Cancers (such as skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and testicular cancer)
    -Diabetes
    -Obesity
    -Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
    -Lung health
    -Depression and anxiety


    A primary care physician has received intensive training to be able to diagnose these, and other conditions. Based on their medical advice, a patient may receive a referral for further testing and care with a specialized doctor. These doctors will often work with the patient’s primary care physician to develop a treatment plan that can address the patient’s particular care needs.

    How can I prepare for a routine check-up?

    The best way to prepare is to think about your medical history, write down any questions or concerns you have, and be ready to be open and honest with your doctor. If you're expecting to do lab work, you may be ordered to arrive fasted.

    What is a well-child exam?

    Well-child visits (or exams) are routine checkups done to monitor a child's development, as well as assess the general well-being of a child's health. Well-child visits play a key part in preventive health care, measuring a child's growth, tracking developmental progress, and receiving medical advice that assists with the wellness of the child. In the first year of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends well-child visits every few weeks to every few months. After the first year, these office visits are recommended every three months. Once the baby is 2 years old, it is recommended that these visits are done annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assert that well-child visits are crucial for immunization against highly contagious diseases, as well as the developmental milestones of a child.

    What should I expect at a well-child exam?

    Well-child visits are recommended every few weeks during a baby's first year of life. After that, it is recommended that the child sees their pediatrician every few months, then every year after that. These visits help prevent disease and illness and track developmental progress through growth charts.

    Here's what to expect at a well-child visit:

    - Physical exam: The pediatrician or family medicine physician will perform a full-body physical exam to check for infections and abnormalities. The skin of the child will be visually checked for jaundice. A stethoscope will be used to check for breathing difficulty and heartbeat regularity. The organs in the abdomen, as well as the genitalia, will be checked for infection or abnormal lumps. The bone structures in the head are lightly examined to make sure that the bones in the skull are forming and joining properly.

    - Measurements: During the physical exam, the pediatrician, or family medicine physician, will measure certain areas of the child's body to track development and growth. For example, a special tape will be used to measure the child's head circumference. The child will also be weighed. These measurements are recorded on a growth chart that tracks the child's growth curve. This helps determine if the child is growing normally, and what the child's growth is like compared to other children of a similar age.

    - Immunizations: At certain times during the child's growth, it will need vaccines to help protect against disease and illness. Both the CDC and the AAP have released recommended immunization schedules to help parents stay on schedule with vaccinations and disease prevention. Immunizations help boost a child's immune system while protecting against diseases such as tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis B, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

    The CDC strongly recommends following the immunization schedule listed above. While immunizations may cause mild side effects, these are expected and typically go away quickly. There are many common misconceptions about the risks of vaccination for children, and the dangers of not vaccinating a child against contagious, harmful diseases far outweigh these potential side effects. Studies have shown that vaccines do not cause autism, or sudden infant death syndrome, which are two commonly held misapprehensions about vaccination.

    - Motor skills and development: Doctors will check the child's developing motor skills with a few simple tests. This includes checking whether or not a child turns toward sound, and if their eyes follow a certain sight. A doctor may ask about social behaviors (such as imitation of sounds and facial expressions), and skills such as crawling, standing, and reaching.

    When should a child have a well-child exam?

    Bright Futures, from The American Academy of Pediatrics, have released a periodicity schedule that clearly outlines the recommended timetable for screening tests and checkups for a newborn infant up through childhood. The first well-baby visit is done 3-5 days after birth. Then, visits are recommended every month-2 months for the first year of life. After that, visits should be done at 3-month intervals until the baby is 2 years old. Then visits are recommended every 6 months-1 year. This continues through adolescence.

    The periodicity schedule outlines different tests, vaccinations, and checkups needed for each specific visit. Not every visit will require a vaccination, and some will only consist of a physical exam. Tests and procedures may vary depending on the needs of the child, medical history, and specific wellness concerns.

    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.

    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

    - Urinalysis

    What are these tests used for?

    More on the tests included in a standard health panel:

    Complete blood count (CBC):

    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
    - Hemoglobin
    - Platelets


    Abnormalities in these blood levels may indicate the presence of an underlying health condition such as:
    - Anemia
    - Bone disorders
    - Malnutrition (such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies)
    - Infections
    - Inflammation
    - Autoimmune disorders
    - Leukemia and lymphoma
    - Sickle cell anemia


    Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP):

    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:
    - Albumin
    - Blood urea nitrogen
    - Calcium
    - Carbon dioxide
    - Chloride
    - Creatinine
    - Glucose
    - Potassium
    - Sodium
    - 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
    - Metabolism


    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.

    Lipid Panel:

    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
    - Diabetes
    - Unhealthy diet
    - History of high cholesterol


    Thyroid Panel:

    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.

    Blood Clot Tests:

    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.

    Urinalysis:

    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.

    Can I get quality treatment during my telehealth appointment?

    Yes! Providers on Sesame meet the highest standards of quality. Many medical conditions can be immediately and conveniently diagnosed during a telehealth appointment.

    Looking for other kinds of care?

    Doctors on Sesame continually add new services to give you access to quality care at affordable prices.
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