October 06, 2020
Many people see health care visits as reactive. They begin to feel an ache, run a fever, or have some other ailment, and then make an appointment with their doctor for treatment. But proactive health care visits are vital to our overall health. These visits promote wellness, can be instrumental in identifying issues before they become problems, and ultimately reduce the amount of time you spend at the doctor’s office in the long run.
Some proactive visits only have to happen once, such as the scoliosis screening you receive in elementary school. But there are a few health care visits that should be done annually, even if nothing seems wrong.
Everyone should have a primary care physician (PCP). A PCP can treat common ailments, refer you to specialists when needed, and help you prevent illness. A visit includes checking your height and weight, and evaluating your blood pressure, breathing, and other functions. Changes to your vital signs can be indicative of a larger health issue, so taking them annually is essential. Additionally, your PCP may order certain annual blood tests to monitor your cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and other important health indicators, and also check to make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Because your PCP is the first person you call when you need care, annual visits can also help you build a relationship for a lifetime of care.
There are many types of PCPs: pediatricians for children, internists for adults, geriatricians for older individuals, and family practitioners who serve the whole family.
Health care specialists are experts of health or wellness. A few of them cover areas that are so important, you should make an annual appointment a priority each year.
Every woman should see an obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) specialist annually. These doctors focus on a woman’s reproductive system and provide care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. During a visit, the OB/GYN will screen for any problems and discuss any concerns you have. Whether you’re considering having children or not, a visit to the OB/GYN is an important annual appointment.
Don’t forget the dentist, either. Oral care is an important part of overall health, and a trip to the dentist at least once a year will do more than fend off cavities. Dental cleanings and exams can help identify other mouth diseases that can affect your whole body.
Everyone should be seeing the health care providers discussed above. However, there are three more specialists that aren’t for everyone, but if you fit certain criteria, you ought to be in their offices once per year.
If your family has a history of skin cancer, an annual trip to the dermatologist is a highly recommended. Dermatologists examine your skin and identify any moles or growths that may be cancerous. They will also keep a close eye on any changes that occur between visits and can monitor any developments that put you at risk.
Do you wear contacts? If so, you probably already see your ophthalmologist once a year. Anyone with corrective lenses—especially as they get older—should see an eye doctor annually. For senior citizens, these visits are important to determine if it’s still safe to drive or do other activities. A typical visit will involve checking your vision and, if needed, identifying when prescriptions for contacts or corrective lenses need to be updated.
Another specialist that needs to be seen by older men is the urologist. If your family has a history of prostate cancer, or if you’re suffering from problems common to older men — such as incontinence or erectile dysfunction — you’ll want to get an exam each year. Most men begin screenings annually at age 50, but if you have a family history of prostate issues, starting as early as 40 is recommended.
These annual trips to the doctor help you stay on the road to wellness and can be instrumental in catching something before it becomes a problem. Are you looking for someone to help with one of the health care visits above? Independence Blue Cross members can easily search a vetted network of participating providers by visiting IBX.com.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.