Make the Most of Your Yearly Check-up
You might be someone that doesn’t get sick often. You don’t get colds, you avoid the flu, and you’re not susceptible to pestering seasonal allergies or serious bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.
You haven’t needed to take trips to the doctor, and suddenly, it hits you: You haven’t been to the doctor in a couple years!
While it may seem like this is a good thing, because you’ve been quite healthy, it is important to visit the doctor at least once a year to get an annual check-up. Your yearly visit to the doctor can have tremendous benefits.
Reasons to Schedule Your Yearly Check-up
A regularly-scheduled check-up (also called a physical) covers a number of basic health checkpoints.
- Your weight: By having an annual physical, you can track year-to-year changes in weight, which may identify unexpected gains or losses that have not been caused by diet or exercise changes.
- Your blood pressure: Haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently? An annual check can note any suspicious reading that suggests high or low blood pressure. While one blood pressure test reading cannot prove a medical condition, it can alert you to something you need to pay closer attention to moving forward.
- Your health changes: As you look back on the past year, have there been any noticeable changes? Headaches that you hadn’t previously dealt with, or allergies that have made spring or fall worse than previous years? This is a good time to check-in with your doctor on solutions to problems that hadn’t seemed been worth their own doctor’s appointments earlier in the year.
- Ear, Nose & Throat Examination: The doctor will look for any sign of problems or inflammation that should be monitored moving forward or could explain earlier health problems.
- Heart, Lungs & Abdomen: Your doctor will also use a stethoscope to hear your breathing and listen for any abnormalities or signs your breathing is labored in any way. A check of your abdomen will also look for any signs of swelling of your internal organs.
- Family History Review: Your yearly check-up provides you an opportunity to speak to your doctor about particular medical conditions that have affected your family in the past. As you age, different medical conditions may be focused on more than others, which makes your annual check-ups important as your body and lifestyle change.
- Urine and/or Blood Tests: While these may not always be required, they may be recommended by your physician based on any symptoms you describe or diseases listed in your family history.
- Additional Exams: Depending on your age and sex, additional routine tests may be required, such as breast and pelvic exams for women, and prostate, testicular and hernia exams for men.
Make the Most of Your Annual Check-up
Come prepared! In-between annual check-ups, keep track of medical problems insignificant and serious. Keeping a detailed journal allows you to track the frequency of headaches, colds and other ailments that bother you throughout the year. It will also help the doctor more quickly review the severity of any symptoms or issues you describe, and more accurately choose which (if any) follow-up tests are necessary.
Should your annual check-up indicate anything does need to be looked into further, proactively schedule follow-up appointments quickly, so that your health can be protected.
Of course, you hope that every annual check-up provides no news or diagnoses you need to act on. Living a healthy, active style can help you prevent more serious health issues from arising. Regardless, even if you think you’re pretty healthy, an annual check-up is a great way of letting a professional make sure there are no basic warning signs to consider. Scheduling one doctor appointment to spot health issues (or potential health issues) early can help prevent many more doctor’s appointments in the future!