Checkups are an effective way to manage your health. Being proactive about your health gives you and your healthcare providers a chance to act on a condition before symptoms appear or a crisis erupts. It also increases the chances of a better prognosis. Reactive healthcare, however, leaves you in the dark about what is happening to your body; without knowledge of the diseases you are at high risk of getting. So what’s the answer to ‘how often should I get a health check up?’ The answer varies, and we’ll explore the different answers to that question in this article.
1. Your Primary Care Provider
A physical checkup is a routine wellness check usually conducted by your primary care provider to assess your overall health. The primary care provider can be a nurse, doctor, physician assistant, or practitioner. It used to be that physical checkups were an annual practice, but this has however changed in the past couple of years. Groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and leading doctors no longer recommend it for generally healthy people.
There are different ideas about how frequently one should make an appointment for a wellness check. Age and risk level for contracting a disease are two of the most significant factors influencing the frequency of visits. Here’s a general guideline to help you answer ‘how often should I get a health check up?’
- Age 30 and below – If you are healthy and are in your 20s and 30s, make it a point to see a medical professional for a physical every two or three years. In particular, young people can benefit from certain vaccines, while women should consider the benefits of regular cervical cancer screening.
- Ages 30 to 40 – at this range, there are more risk factors, so most people should start attending annual screenings. Risk factors include conditions like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes which can be detected early. Women at this age can also benefit from regular breast cancer screenings.
- Ages 50 and above – annual physicals become even more critical at this point. Both women and men should be screened for colon cancer via colonoscopies. Flue and pneumonia also become a concern for people over 65 – they should consider being vaccinated against the two.
What Happens in a Physical Exam
You will receive a basic exam similar to everyone else’s during the physical. However, your doctor may include further examinations based on your specific health characteristics. Your primary care provider may begin by taking your vitals, i.e., weight, height, blood pressure, and pulse. They will also use a stethoscope to listen to the lungs, intestines, and heart for any abnormalities that may require further examination. They can also utilize a percussion technique to feel the body for areas with unusual fluid buildup. They will also ask questions about your body to help uncover any issues. To aid your doctor in this exercise, note any questions or symptoms you’ve been experiencing as well as any medications and drugs you’ve been using. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as this could save you from suddenly needing a medical transportation service.
How often should I get a health check up with a dentist? For a long time, the accepted rule of thumb for dental visits has been twice a year. According to the Cochrane collaboration, a review of the research for bi-annual visits has been too poor to refute or back up bi-annual visits. However, many dentists agree that it is still a good rule of thumb, but it depends mainly on your oral hygiene and unique medical conditions. Some may only need to visit once or twice a year, and other high-risk individuals may need to go often. Those with a greater risk of dental disease include people with diabetes, smokers, pregnant women, and individuals with weak immune systems, gingivitis, or those prone to plaque or cavity buildup.
Dental checkups involve an examination and cleaning. Without them, dental problems can emerge unnoticed, festering until they become serious problems that are hard to treat, painful, and expensive. Don’t wait until you need a filling, root canal, extraction, or an even more invasive procedure. During your dental checkup, a dental hygienist will assess your oral health, clean your teeth, and speak to you about oral health care. The dentist will then do a full assessment, including checking your gums, palate, cheek, throat, and neck for any abnormalities. They will also examine any X-rays that might have been taken. After that, they will discuss their findings and recommend any additional dental procedures you may require. Be sure to bring up anything of concern, even if it’s a teeth whitening procedure. You should visit an emergency dentist if you have any oral issues that are persistent, too.
A gynecologist specializes in treating female reproductive organs. They are certified and registered with professional bodies such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). How often should I get a health check up? Women aged 21 and up are encouraged to have an annual gynecologist visit. A typical gynecologist visit involves a pelvic exam.
How often should I get a health check up for cervical cancer? ACOG recommends a pap test every three years for those aged 21 and over to help screen for cervical cancer. Alternatively, those aged 25 and over can opt for HPV screening every five years. A visit to the OB-GYN is essential, as it gives women a chance to speak frankly about sex, birth control, abnormal bleeding, unusual discharge, pelvic pain, and other common problems. If you’re pregnant, you should see your OB-GYN once a month.
A dermatologist is a doctor who treats conditions involving the skin. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should see a dermatologist once a year for a skin examination. One of the main reasons for this is skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin cancer is estimated to affect one in five Americans over their lifetime, making it the most common cancer type.
The dermatologist will thoroughly examine your body from head to toe during the exam. They may also use a dermatoscope (magnifying device), and if they find any suspicious spots, they may remove the lesion and send it to a lab for analysis. Other than skin cancer, dermatologists will treat conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and mole removal. Like cosmetic dentists, some of their work is about improving appearance. Be sure to check with your affordable health insurance service whether they cover dermatological procedures since most only cover medically necessary treatments.
A rheumatologist is a doctor who treats bone diseases that come with age. How often should I get a health check up for bone disease? According to ACOG, all women over the age of 65 should undergo a bone mineral test. This test examines whether you have osteoporosis – a condition where the bones become weak, thin, and brittle. It affects women five times more than men. According to the American College of Preventative Medicine (ACPM), men over 70 should also take the test. Going for screening is essential because osteoporosis can be prevented and treated. In addition, you can go to a rheumatologist if you experience lasting musculoskeletal pains.
An optometrist is a medical professional who provides primary vision healthcare. They aren’t doctors (like a family physician), but they are licensed to offer optometry services, e.g., eye exams, writing contact and lens prescriptions, discovering eye abnormalities, and treating certain eye diseases. How often should I get a health check up? According to WebMD, you should see an optometrist once in your 20s and two times in your 30s if you have healthy eyesight that does not require contacts or glasses.
If you wear eyesight aids, then an annual visit is recommended for all ages. Those in their 40s should have regular visits, and those above 65 should have a visit every one to two years. Children should however see an optometrist at birth, age three, and just before entering grade school. Visiting an eye doctors office can aid in the early detection of conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
A pediatrician is a doctor who manages children’s physical, mental, and behavioral health from the time they are born until they reach age 18. They are especially important during the early development stages. During a wellness exam, they will check how the child is developing relative to its peers. They will also check their physical health, testing their lungs, heart, vision, and hearing. How often should I get a health check up for my baby? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you should have your child checked seven times between the ages of one and four.
These are doctors who can treat and prevent gastrointestinal tract and liver diseases. If you have abdominal discomfort, unexplained frequent digestive issues, or strange changes to your bowel habits, you may also want to schedule a gastroenterologist checkup. According to the American Cancer Society, you should get a colonoscopy at the age of 45, especially if you are at risk of colorectal cancer. How often should I get a health check up at a gastroenterologist’s office? These should be performed once every decade. However, those with pre-existing digestive health issues may benefit from more frequent visits. They also treat irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and gallbladder disease.
A chiropractor is a medical professional that cares for the neuromusculoskeletal system, i.e., the nerves, bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. Their focus is on the body’s ability to heal itself. They help patients manage back and neck pain through spinal adjustments that result in better alignment. They can also treat headaches and arthritic joint malfunctions. Before making a chiropractic adjustment, the chiropractor may use X-rays to diagnose the patient’s condition before proceeding with treatment. How often should I get a health check up with a chiropractor? The answer here is that it greatly depends on the individual and whether they believe they benefit from the visits. You and your chiropractor can work out the frequency of visits.
A urologist is a doctor who treats conditions of the urinary tract, including those of the reproductive system. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, bladder, ureter, and urethra. It should also be noted that the urinary systems of humans are closely linked to their reproductive systems. You can expect a physical examination, urinalysis, and an imaging test during your visit. How often should I get a health check up with a urologist? According to the American Urological Association, all men should have prostate cancer screenings at the age of 40 or as soon as any symptoms appear.
Why Get a Check Up In The Fall?
According to a study by Zocdoc, which examined their database containing millions of medical appointments, most doctors are the least busy in the fall months of November and December. However, this was not the case with optometrists, rheumatologists, and radiologists. Their data showed that, on average, the busiest month is March, followed by January and August. Therefore, the fall is a great time to see a doctor as their schedules aren’t as busy.
Proactive health care has come to the fore, especially with technological inventions such as fitness wearables, mobile apps, and artificial intelligence that aid in the early detection of health risk factors. Furthermore, these tools aid patients craft and make lifestyle changes that improve their health outcomes. Proactive healthcare reduces the need for reactive and transportation medicine. If you need any help with how often should I get a health check up, talk to your primary care provider today.