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How Often Should I Go to the Doctor?

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Aug 6, 2015 10:00:00 AM

When was the last time you saw your doctor? Most people don't think about visiting the doctor unless they feel sick or have a problem. Even when you are healthy, it's wise to have a yearly check up. Health issues have a way of sneaking up on you even when you are feeling great. Regular visits to your doctor can be sometimes be the difference between life and death. Diet and exercise are an important part of your lifestyle, but in some cases genetics play a major role when it comes to your health.

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If you have a family history of certain conditions such as high blood pressures, sleep disorders, or cancer yearly check ups can help detect them early and early detection is the best for your health!

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One Answer for All?

The question of how often should I see a doctor does not have a one size fits all answer. The short answer is that you should have a yearly physical or checkup just to make sure that there is nothing going on that may require more attention. Everyone should have a yearly checkup, but some people may need to visit their doctor more often than that. Here are just a few facts about doctor's visits.

  • The national average for visits to the doctor is four times a year
  • Babies visit the doctor several times during the first couple of years of life. Most babies average 9 visits a year.
  • Slightly older children, aged five to fifteen, may only go a couple of times a year as needed. 
  • Uninsured people go to the doctor about half as much as insured people.
  • Some people don't have a regular doctor and only see one when there is an emergency.
  • Studies have shown that poor or uninsured people prolong the time between doctor's visits.
  • Pregnant women will see their doctor every four or five weeks or as often as weekly depending one which stage of pregnancy they are in.
  • People with high blood pressure may need to see the doctor four times a year to make sure their medications are working correctly.
  • Patients with more serious conditions, such as cancer, will make more frequent visits during chemotherapy.
  • Patients who are undergoing dialysis will visit their doctor several times a week.

Why Should I go to the Doctor?

You may be wondering why you should visit the doctor if you are feeling fine. One-third of all heart attack victims have no warning. People often wait until there is a crisis before calling the doctor, but in many cases early detection of a health issue can save lives.

A stroke can be caused by a blockage. If you have regular checkups, your doctor can detect symptoms of high cholesterol and prescribe medicine to prevent the stroke.

High blood pressure is another health condition that can sneak up on you. It can be easily detected during your regular check up. 

People who are overweight, smoke, drink, or do not exercise are at even greater risk of developing certain conditions. While changing those unhealthy behaviors is a starting point, sometimes genetics can play a big role in how quickly certain conditions can develop. Regular checkups can detect conditions early, and possibly save your life.

How Should I Prepare For My Visit?

Why wait for an emergency to talk to your doctor? Go ahead and schedule your check up. When you visit your doctor, make the most of your visit by following these guidelines.

  • Make a list. Just like you need a grocery list to remember all the little things you need, you should make a health list for your doctor. Be sure to include that neck pain you feel in the morning or that weird spot on the bottom of your foot. Don't feel embarrassed or leave anything out. After all, you might only go once a year! Your primary care physician is there to answer all your questions or point you to someone else with more expertise in certain areas.
  • Discuss age related tests. As you get older, your body changes. There are tests, exams, or procedures that are recommended for you as you age. Ask you doctor which tests you need to be getting for your current age. You will likely be able to schedule these tests while you are there.
  • Keep a health journal. Keeping a health journal helps you remember everything. Write down any tests, surgeries, or procedures you have. Write down illnesses that your immediate family members have developed. Keep track of your allergies and current medications. Keeping this information written down will make it easier for you to be on top of your health. It can also be a great resource if you need to see a specialist other than your regular doctor. It will ensure that you don't leave out any details when meeting your new doctor.

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Topics: Health Care