Do I Really Need a Routine Checkup?

By Felecia Sumner, D.O.

Calling your doctor’s office, finding the time to fit in a visit and calculating how much time you’ll have to sit in the waiting room can seem like a big inconvenience – especially if you aren’t feeling sick.

But making time for your routine checkup is extremely important for your overall health. The regular health exams and tests performed during routine checkups can help identify risk factors and problems before they start. And if they catch an issue early, treatment will have a better chance of being effective.

Visiting your doctor for routine checkups on a regular basis will also give your doctor the ability to gain a perspective of your overall health. This knowledge will allow them to notice any changes in your health that might require more attention. All of that adds up to a healthier and longer life.

So, how often do you need have those checkups? Experts suggest that you see your doctor a minimum of once a year. But, depending on your age, health, family history, lifestyle choices or pre-existing health conditions, you may need to see your doctor more often.

shutterstock_6860794Some of the tests during your exam will check your:

  • Height and weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Temperature
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Vision
  • Hearing

During your exam, your doctor may listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check for an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or signs of heart disease. They will also listen to your lungs for clues of heart or lung disease.

Your doctor may also check on your vaccination status to see if you’re due for immunizations and booster shots.

shutterstock_3212780For men, your annual physical may include testicular, hernia, penis and prostate exams. A woman’s annual physical may include breast and pelvic exams.

Your doctor may also have a discussion with you about your diet and exercise habits; any tobacco, drugs or alcohol use; depression and stress to evaluate your mental health.

Young or old, having regular checkups is crucial in assessing your general state of health. You’ll be able to detect many serious health threats early by making time to visit your doctor. So, the next time you’re coming up with an excuse to forgo your annual physical, remember that seeing your doctor for a check up can save your life.

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