If you find yourself in the privileged position of being young, healthy, and fully able-bodied, then it’s easy to take advantage of how well you have it to the point where you can’t even remember the last time you went to get a standard physical exam. The fact is, as we grow older, it’s easier for us to mentally push off going to the doctor for our annual check-ups because we find ourselves so busy with the real world.
This can become an issue because we end up only ever going back to the doctor when we deem it extremely necessary, like when we have a severe fever. Pushing off standard exams decreases the chances of catching more serious medical ailments that you might not even know you have as well. How many horror stories have we seen where an individual would have received a better diagnosis had they not pushed off going to the doctor.
Life can get extremely busy as we grow older, so it’s understandable that going to the doctors just for a physical would be relatively low on your list of priorities, however, it should be the opposite. To make the process easier, try to set a fixed time of year that you can make all of your appointments for to get them all out of the way. Many chose to get their annual check-ups at the beginning of the year, as that’s when newer insurance policies also tend to go into effect.
So what appointments should you be making to ensure that you remain completely happy and healthy with the new year? As mentioned, it’s extremely important to stick to getting an annual physical exam from your primary care physician (the doctor you would go to when you’re feeling sick).
“Typically, these appointments will simply involve your doctor checking your vitals, including your heart rate, cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight to make sure everything looks good and normal. During these appointments, your primary care physician can assist in creating health goals with you, which your doctor will check on at the next annual appointment. These examinations are usually quick and painless, and almost always covered by insurance,” wrote Mackenzie Dunn, a lifestyle content creator.
Next, you’ll need an oral exam from the dentist, which is normally followed by a cleaning. Brushing your teeth twice a day accompanied by flossing is the standard for oral health, however, getting a real cleaning and exam from your dentist ensures that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.
The American Dental Association recommends you get a cleaning twice a year, or every six months. Oral exams and cleanings will ensure that you don’t show any signs of cavities, gum disease, or dental decay, and if you are showing signs, your dentist will be able to provide the best course of treatment for returning your oral health back to what it should be.
Next you’ll need a dermatologist appointment. Typically, people think you should only go to the dermatologist if you suffer from acne or any other skin irritations/abnormalities, however, this could not be further from the truth. One in five people develop skin cancer at some point during their life, even if you have the clearest skin out of everyone you know, you never know what beauty mark or mole could have the potential to grow into something much more serious. Luckily, melanoma can be one of the most treatable forms of cancer, when it’s caught early; hence the emphasis on getting an annual exam!
Finally, if you’re biologically female, it’s extremely important that you visit the OB-GYN at least once a year for an annual pelvic exam and pap smear, especially if you’re 21 or older and/or sexually active. These exams ensure that your reproductive health is normal, and like any other exam that everything is functioning the way it should be.
“At this visit, you can expect to have a breast exam and a pelvic exam. Your doctor will check for any lumps or abnormalities in your breasts and examine your reproductive organs both internally and externally, but the entire process lasts about 10 minutes and is fairly painless,” says Dr. Taraneh Nazem, a reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York.
While these exams can often seem like an annoying obligation, it doesn’t excuse avoiding them for the sake of laziness. Your health is a privilege and one that should not be taken advantage of, so do what’s best for you and your body and take all the sick days you need to get them all done. When you’re much older and able to witness the birth of your great-grandchild, it will surely be worth it.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.