April 19, 2016
“Do I need to get a yearly check-up?” This is a question my patients frequently ask.
Depending on your age, health conditions, and the medications you take, the answer will vary.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
But one thing is certain, wellness visits help you stay on track with important health screenings and immunizations. A physical exam and discussion with your doctor can also identify factors that may put you at risk for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
I’ve had several young healthy adults come in routinely for physicals to learn they are prediabetic, have a familial high cholesterol problem, or have contracted a sexually transmitted infection for which they have no symptoms.
Wellness visits also offer important educational opportunities. For instance, if a woman is considering becoming pregnant, her doctor can share information to help assure a healthy pregnancy.
The National Institutes of Health does not advise for or against annual physical exams; but rather makes age-specific recommendations about which screening tests adults need and when.
Infants and children require more well visits when they are younger to assure they are developing properly and receiving needed immunizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine healthcare. People at high risk for HIV should be tested at least once a year. And anyone who is initiating a new sexual relationship or who receives a recommendation from their doctor should be tested again for HIV.
All LG Health Physicians practices can do HIV testing. Most offices use a blood test, with results in 24 hours. Testing is free at LG Health Physicians Comprehensive Care, regardless of insurance coverage.
How to Prepare for Your Wellness Visit
Developing an open and comfortable relationship with your doctor is a big part of maintaining good health. That means not only listening carefully to what your doctor says, but also asking the right questions. Take an active role in preparing for your wellness visit. Here are some tips:
- Write down questions or concerns about your health that may have arisen since you last spoke with your doctor. It’s easy to forget once you’re in the exam room.
- Review your family history with other family members so it can be updated at your wellness visit if needed.
- Review the medications you are taking, note any questions you have, and check whether you need refills. Don’t forget to include over-the-counter drugs, herbs, supplements, and vitamins.
- Consider asking a friend or family member to accompany to your appointment. Much information will be shared and it may be helpful to have someone along to take notes, remember details, or ask questions you may not think of.
Spending some time prior to your physical exam will help you make the most of your time with your doctor.