Why you should get an annual physical.
An important part of your health care plan.
Growing skepticism from national media outlets recently are starting to question the effectiveness of annual physicals. Some experts even contend that an annual checkup may be wholly unnecessary for healthy adults. However, the need for physical exams by your doctor is highly individual. There’s no standard recommendation for how often healthy people should see their doctors. The best advice: Ask your doctor how often s/he wants to see you.
Regardless of the negative press, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 92 percent of Americans believe it to be an important part of their health care. We do too. Here are some top reasons why you should get your yearly physical.
Chat with your doctor about yearly physicals.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to say exactly who benefits MOST from a yearly physical examination, Duke University medical professionals can agree on their importance. “Regular check-ups are important to maintain a relationship with your doctor and to receive individualized counseling based on your family health history and your lifestyle.”
Different recommendations about check-up frequency apply to individuals who take medication and have chronic disease risk factors. In that case, annual physicals may be recommended since blood tests may be necessary and treatments may need to be changed.
Being overweight also influences how often you get a physical because it increases one’s risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. For these individuals, the annual physical is an opportunity to reinforce healthy lifestyle choices.
Everyone can make the most of their physical if they heed this advice, says Doyle:
- Arrive on time
- Know the names and doses of any medications you are taking, including over the counter supplements
- Bring your vaccine record including when you received your last flu shot (annual), tetanus (every 10 years) and pertussis (in the last 10 years)
- Bring the dates of your last cancer and/or health screenings
And, of course, be honest. Being truthful about your smoking and/or drinking habit gives the doctor the information she needs to provide the appropriate counseling to maximize your health.
Many of the things a healthy person might go to a doctor for don’t require a physician appointment at all – immunizations and blood pressure checks, for example. You can likely get these at your nearest urgent care without seeing your doctor.