When Should You Visit the Doctor for Regular Checkups?
Generations ago, the services of doctors are only called for when people are gravely sick, or even when terminally ill. However, over time, the importance of preventative medicine has become a crucial part of healthcare. The prevention and early detection of diseases have helped improve the quality of life.
Among the key aspects of preventative medicine is having regular check-ups. Regularly being checked by a doctor allows you to be on top of your health, and also allows doctors to notice changes in your health condition, and may need to request for a confirmatory laboratory test or two to verify such changes.
But how often should regular checkups really be? And when should you start going for checkups? Health experts tell us that frequency of checkups depend on a number of factors, and age being among the most important one.
In the United States, their Department of Health and Human Services recommend that children should get around seven “well-child visits” between the age of 1 and 4. Then, the general consensus for generally healthy individuals below the age of 50, is that once every 3 years of general checkup is reasonable. From 50 onwards, checkups should be done annually. These regular checkups would include fundamental tests such as blood pressure, blood chemistry, and physical exam among others.
However, there are certain cases that call for more frequent visits to the doctors. Some of these reasons are the following:
1. Family history of diseases
If you have a family member that has a history of a chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments, your doctor may ask for more frequent check-ups and you reach adulthood.
Doctors of parents with chronic diseases would already likely recommend lifestyle changes that can help their children avoid increasing their risk of developing the same diseases. And to be sure, and especially if you exhibit any sign or symptom, doctors would ask for laboratory tests that will aim to detect early signs of the disease, hopefully catching it when medical intervention can reverse the development of the disease.
Doctors also recommend once every three years of pap smear and HPV test (test for the presence of the virus that causes cervical cancer). Meanwhile, women who are sexually active may want to screened at least yearly for sexually transmitted infections.
2. Oral health
Overall health includes all aspect of our well-being, including oral health. This is further made true by studies confirming oral conditions, especially gum diseases, are associated with increased risk for heart ailments
A visit to the dentist once every 6 months is recommended so that you can have check-ups and oral prophylaxis. Your dentist may also screen you regularly for oral cancer.
3. Vision and eye health
The health of our eyes is another important aspect of our health that we should not take for granted. If there are changes in the quality of your vision, you should see an optometrist right away. And if you already have glasses or contact lenses, visiting once a year is ideal to ensure that your prescription glasses are kept updated. Meanwhile, you should visit an ophthalmologist for other aspects of your eye health, especially when you have other health conditions that may have an effect on your eyes such as diabetes.
4. Skin health
The skin is the largest organ or the human body, and so it deserves to be checked by a specialist. Dermatologists do not only address aesthetic concerns with your skin, but also skin conditions such as skin cancers and even moles.
5. Women’s reproductive health
Even healthy women should schedule an annual visit to an obstetrician-gynecologist or OB-GYN. This allows women to have expert advice on their general reproductive health, as well as mental health since the hormones related to women’s bodily functions such as ovulation can be affected by stress.
Going for regular checkups is an important step to ensure that you are on top of your health. As mentioned, once every three years of doctor’s visit should be enough for a generally healthy adult, but going more regularly won’t hurt. This is especially true for the aforementioned special areas of our health where consultation with specialists would be very helpful.