About 82% of Americans visit a healthcare professional yearly and 1 billion doctor visits are made per year in total.
That’s a lot of visits, but only about half of them are to primary care physicians — the doctor that you’d visit for a regular checkup.
While a lot of people are diligent about going to the dentist every 6 months or changing their car oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles most people don’t think about getting a regular doctor check up.
Regular doctor checkups do not necessarily need to happen every year. In a lot of cases, every other year could be sufficient depending on your general health and what your doctor recommends.
Your health is the most important thing you should check up on, since it affects everything you do and your future, so whether you’re getting your doctor check up every year or every other year, be sure you’re getting them.
1. Learn Your Cholesterol Levels
Approximately one fifth of all Americans do not know their cholesterol level, despite the fact that about 35% of American adults have high cholesterol.
High cholesterol levels impact your heart health severely. If your total cholesterol levels are high, you can be at twice the risk for heart disease than with normal cholesterol levels.
Once you have visited your doctor, you may not need to get your cholesterol checked for another 4 years if you check out healthy.
If you do have high cholesterol levels, you and your doctor can work together to find solutions to lower them and plan another doctor check up to ensure you’re making progress.
2. Check Blood Pressure Levels
Similar to cholesterol, blood pressure affects your risk of heart disease tremendously. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., so monitoring your blood pressure could actually help save your life.
Blood pressure is easy to check and can even be done at a pharmacy. However, if you do have prehypertension or high blood pressure, a doctor can immediately provide solutions to help you find a way to lower your blood pressure.
3. Get Necessary Screenings
Both men and women need different screenings at different times in their lives. Getting an early start on key screenings can help you better track your health with regular doctor check ups.
Screenings for women include mammograms, a pap smear, pelvic exams, and any blood work that may be suggested.
Men need to be screened for prostate cancer, colon cancer, and get their testosterone levels checked.
Though certain screenings aren’t needed until an older age, going in for regular doctor check ups will help make certain these health issues are monitored.
4. Keep A Better Health Record
Visiting your doctor regularly is a pretty simple way to keep an accurate health record. The more often you visit the doctor, the more information you will have on your health, allowing you to better keep track of your health.
Your doctor may prescribe a certain medication or advise you to watch for certain symptoms if he or she has any concerns for your health at all.
With an up-to-date health record, you are more able to both remember what the doctor told you and to review your progress from the previous check up.
5. Prevention is Key
Benjamin Franklin may have said it best: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And he didn’t even have anything close to our medical technology.
Prevention is the best method to maintain good health. Aside from genetics, most cases of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes are preventable.
People tend to ignore signs of these issues or do not take the proper measures to prevent it, either because they don’t know better or because they simply didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
6. WebMD Isn’t The Same as a Doctor Visit
It’s true, we live in a time of convenience and instant answers at our fingertips. Your back has been hurting for a few days and feels tight, so most of us Google what that means and take information from a few different websites as fact.
The problem here? The internet can’t fully assess what the problem is like an in-person doctor check up can.
Doctors can poke around (both figuratively and literally) to see exactly where it hurts, what symptoms you have, and run tests to get to the bottom of the issue. What you thought was a strained back muscle may actually be a kidney stone and only a check up provide an accurate health assessment.
Now, we’re not recommending you rush to the doctor for every ache or pain, but try to sense if it may be a bigger issue than what you’re perceiving it to be. If it’s been hurting for 2 weeks and hasn’t gotten better, it’s probably time to visit the doctor.
Having a regular doctor check up is a great way to stay on top of your health and learn about what you need to do specifically to keep your heart as healthy as possible.