People only used to see their healthcare provider when they weren’t feeling well. However, preventative healthcare practices have now become routine, with doctors wanting their patient’s to have a regular health checkup that will, hopefully, allow the physician to catch any potential problems in the nascent stages. This reduces the need for more invasive treatments, including surgery, and improves patient prognoses. Additionally, people have started to take charge of their own health over the last couple of decades, having learned that an annual checkup can head off a minor health matter before it progresses into a major problem.
The main factor that determines how often you should have a checkup depends on the conditions that are being screened for. It is recommended that some health screenings be performed every six months, whereas others can go for as long as 10 years. Age, family history and your own health condition can also play a factor in determining how often you should have a health checkup.
Many diseases that are readily treatable when caught early on, like some forms of cancer, become life-threatening in the later stages. This is why an annual overall health screening is so important. Unfortunately, many people don’t have regular a health checkup due to the cost. If health insurance is not available to help defray the cost, a routine check up can cost several hundred dollars. However, if a disease goes undetected and progresses to a serious or life-threatening stage, treatment is typically much more involved, and expensive.
Annual checkups should include a complete blood count, to check for things like diabetes and high cholesterol, a urine analysis and a blood pressure check. Overweight people should have a yearly body-mass index assessment and those over 40, especially people with a family history of heart disease, are good candidates for an EKG.
Annual checkups should also include screening for sexually related issues, such as reproductive problems and sexually transmitted diseases. Annual screenings for prostate cancer for men and pap tests and breast exams for women are crucial to catch readily curable cancers in the early stages. Common STDs, like gonorrhea, syphilis and HPV, may not show any symptoms, but can lead to serious complications, like blindness, if left untreated. Treatment for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has come a long way in the last decade, and the disease can be treated very successfully if caught before symptoms appear.
Both men and women over 50 years of age should have regular colorectal cancer screenings every five to seven years, depending on family history. Immunizations for influenza, tetanus, phenomena diphtheria and others should be reviewed each year and boosters given when needed.
Dental exams should be performed every six months to one year. Exams should include a thorough inspection for cavities, loose fillings and broken or chipped teeth. Failure to have these issues addressed in a timely manner can lead to serious complications, such as sinus infections and tooth abscesses that require root canal therapy.
A comprehensive vision exam is recommended every two years. In addition to a routine eye test, to check eyeglass prescription strength, a thorough eye exam will include screening for eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, both of which can rob you of your sight. Of the two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry, wet macular degeneration does have treatment options that can help you preserve your eyesight.
Routine checkups make it easier for healthcare providers to diagnose diseases in their early stages. If something out of the ordinary is discovered, your doctor will recommend further tests or refer you to a specialist to give you the best chance for successful treatment. However, the important thing to remember is, no treatment can be given if you are not aware of the condition.