As a whole, Americans don’t like to visit their doctor. As a matter of fact, the number of annual visits to a physician comes in at an average of 4 for Americans, far less than that of other nations such as Japan which averages 13 visits a year. For some, it may be fear or stubbornness that keeps them away. They may be concerned about what they would discover if they visited their physician more frequently. While others simply don’t see the need for medical care or are perhaps deterred by cost. Whatever the reason, bypassing medical appointments until something is seriously wrong means missing the opportunity to fully care for your body and your health.
The power of preventative medicine cannot be overstated. While some may feel that their time and money are better spent elsewhere, annual wellness visits give patients invaluable benefits. Regular visits with your primary care physician allows him or her to get to know you and your family history. At the same time, the tests performed can alert them to any potential health conditions that require additional monitoring, meaning you don’t have to wait for things to go wrong in order to correct them.
Of course, there are many factors that can make annual wellness visits more imperative for some than for others, including age, gender and health history. Here is who should see their physician and when:
Birth to 21 Years – The American Academy of Pediatrics uses comprehensive guidelines to let parents and pediatricians know how often children should receive wellness visits, along with a vaccination schedule. As infants, children will need to be seen more frequently, and as they grow, necessary wellness visits will decrease to once per year. However, even as children age, maintaining regular appointments is important to keep up vaccination schedules, help them adjust to their changing bodies, and detect any potential health concerns which may be problematic.
21 to 30 Years – If you are under the age of 30 and in good health, it is recommended that you receive a wellness visit at least every other year. However, this frequency will increase for anyone who has a history of health problems or who is taking any form of prescription medication. Women in this age range who are sexually active should also receive pap smears annually to screen for signs of cervical cancer.
30 to 40 Years – Again, for individuals in this age range who are healthy, bi-annual wellness visits are acceptable. This is also the age range during which many women will need mammograms. For those without a history of breast cancer in their family, the recommended age to begin these screenings is 40. If a family history is present, a physician may recommend that these tests begin at an earlier age.
50+ Years – For those who are over the age of 50, annual wellness visits are a must. Regardless of how you feel and the status of your health thus far, this is the age range when more common health concerns begin to crop up. Your doctor will want to keep careful watch on your blood pressure and cholesterol. This is also when men and women are encouraged to begin colonoscopies for colon cancer screening. The test need only be performed every 10 years for most and is the most effective tool we have against this common and very treatable disease.
Don’t let time, money, or fear deter you from keeping your health in check. Visit your physician at recommended intervals and enjoy the health and peace of mind that comes from doing so.
2335 Church Street
Zachary, LA 70791
(225) 654- 3607
6550 Main Street
Zachary, LA 70791