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Making that annual doctor’s visit is something we all know we should do, but many of us avoid it. In fact, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Zocdoc of approximately 2,100 Americans aged 18 or older, 80 percent admit to “delaying or forgoing preventive care.”
If you fall into that 80 percent, Dr. Yami Cazorla-Lancaster, DO, board-certified pediatrician and a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, has a few reasons you may want to reconsider.
Reasons to See a Doctor Annually
Even if you think you’re in tip-top shape, there are many reasons to head to the doctor for your yearly check-up.
There’s More Time to Talk Strategies for Overall Wellness
“Wellness checks are important for primary care physicians because they give us an opportunity to discuss ways that our patients can stay healthy and prevent chronic disease,” says Cazorla-Lancaster. “We can discuss diet, physical activity, and review medications [to] make sure they are still needed.”
Big lifestyle changes (a stressful new job, a big move, divorce, etc.), as well as little aches and pains that continually show up, can affect our health, but proactively dealing with them with your doctor instead of pushing them under the rug will help uncover solutions.
Establish a Relationship with Your Physician
If you’ve never met your primary care physician or your gynecologist, it may be intimidating to go in for an annual check-up. It would be like trying to tell a stranger all of your intimate health details! But fostering a relationship with your doctor, even when you’re not sick, can make it easier to share health details with your doctor for when you are sick.1 Preventive care is important because it establishes a relationship with your healthcare team who can help you be your healthiest. 1
Uncover Hidden Symptoms
Prevention is key to good health. Regular preventive health check-ups can detect and diagnose fatal diseases which otherwise may lay hidden for a long period inside the body. The only way to know how healthy you really are is to get checked up regularly—even if it’s only on a yearly basis. For example: Think you just have a little trouble sleeping? It may be a symptom of something bigger, like a sleep disorder (like sleep apnea), chronic stress, hormone imbalances, or something else.4 Seeing your doctor at a yearly check-up could help you determine if something is normal in general or normal for you.
Check on Your Sexual Well-Being
All people can benefit from checking up on their reproductive organs. Those who see a gynecologist can benefit from annual pelvic exams (as well as “well-woman visits”) to check for sexually transmitted infections, vaginal infections, and cervical cancer screenings.2 Your doctor may also check your breasts for any lumps. People 55-69 years old with prostates should get theirs checked via blood test every so often as well.3 Even if you aren’t sexually active, you want to ensure everything is going well in that region of the body—any issues may be a sign of a bigger problem.
If you are planning to have a baby—even if that will be much further in the future—seeing your doctor annually can help you determine your fertility and reproductive health.2 Your doctor might be able to recognize opportunities for you to take advantage of now to make pregnancy easier later on.
Preventive Care Can Fight Back Against Colds and Disease
According to Cazorla-Lancaster, “Wellness visits are intended to maintain our health, and when we are healthy, we are less likely to suffer from frequent colds.”
There are many studies linking stress to the development or worsening of disease and one study in particular linking poor sleep quality to a lowered resistance to colds. Depression and anxiety have also been linked to viral diseases. The better your primary care doctor knows you and what you’ve been dealing with, the more tools they can give you to help prevent frequent colds and flu. Another way to keep colds and flu at bay? Treat symptoms immediately so your body can recover as fast as possible. Theraflu’s Hot Liquid Powder offer powerful relief from cold and flu symptoms. The active ingredients in Theraflu Hot Liquid Powder products get to work fast, enabling powerful relief from cold and flu symptoms.
You’ll Feel Supported (and Less Fearful)
“Many adults avoid seeing the doctor because they fear being judged,” says Cazorla-Lancaster. "They might have anxiety about being weighed or worry about discovering abnormal findings in their health markers.” But even if you’re fearful, Cazorla-Lancaster says actually following through on the visit and connecting with your doctor can help alleviate worries. “Most physicians really care, and we truly want you to be healthy and happy. If there is something that you are nervous about or uncomfortable with, the best thing to do is communicate with your doctor so that he or she can understand your worries and address them.”
The more you get to know your physician through annual visits, and the more they get to know you, the more supported and comfortable you’ll feel bringing up health issues. And the more comfortable you are bringing up health issues, the healthier you’ll be! It’s a positive cycle that can only start if you make the first move.
1. Should You Get an Annual Physical? Duke Health. https://www.dukehealth.org/blog/should-you-get-annual-physical. Accessed 5/27/2021.
2. Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year. MyHealthFinder. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/sexual-health/get-your-well-woman-visit-every-year. Accessed 5/27/2021.
3. Should I Get Screened for Prostate Cancer? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/sexual-health/get-your-well-woman-visit-every-year. Accessed 5/27/2021.
4. Sleep Disorders. Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/sleepdisorders.html. Accessed 5/27/2021.