Preventative Tests for Better Health

When it comes to your health and wellbeing, it is better to be proactive than struggling to combat problems that could have been prevented. A positive lifestyle can go a long way toward better health, but it is not the end-all-be-all.

Sometimes, health issues can be present despite healthy habits and without noticeable symptoms. In situations such as these, preventative tests are one of the only ways in which the problem can be uncovered and subsequently addressed.

It is impossible to run every test on a regular basis, creating a dilemma—what tests should be done, and when?

Screenings for Young Adults

For healthy adults under the age of 40, there are a handful of basic tests that should be done on an annual basis. These screenings are typically done in conjunction with annual physical exams and include body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, skin condition, family medical issues, diabetes, vaccines, mental health, and blood work.

Men and women in this age bracket should also be screened for gender-specific issues such as cervical cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and breast/testicular cancer.

Tests for Middle-Aged Adults

The regular tests established as a young adult do not stop when the threshold to midlife is crossed. For those aged 40 to 64, additional tests are added to the base tests done in young adults. While there is no set age at which these particular tests are introduced, they typically coincide with the increased risk of certain conditions that accompany the aging process.

An annual flu shot, the administration of the shingles vaccine, blood work, mammograms, pelvic exams, and prostate exams are all examples of additional tests and procedures that should be performed regularly as you age. Other conditions, such as osteoporosis and lung cancer, may be screened for if your doctor determines that there is a need.

Screenings for Older Adults

Once you hit the age of 65, some tests that were optional in years past will be upgraded to recommended. The good news is that your insurance is more likely to cover these tests now.

The screenings performed in your younger years will continue, and tests such as fall prevention and colorectal cancer screening will be added to the list of recommendations.

No matter what your age may be or what risk factors you may possess, finding a physician you trust to perform comprehensive wellness checks and screenings is key to living a long, healthy life. By opting to undergo the tests above—and any others that your doctor may recommend—you can set yourself up for success and catch any potential issues before they become serious problems.

Preventative testing is highly effective in stopping illnesses and other issues before they can get started. When combined with a healthy, active lifestyle, these screenings help ensure you and your doctor are not caught off-guard.

What to Expect at Your Annual Wellness Exam

Annual physical exams are of vital importance to your health and wellbeing. For many, though, going to the doctor is a challenge for one reason or another. So, whether you haven’t been to a yearly exam in a while or simply want a refresher, wondering what you should expect at your annual wellness exam is entirely normal.

Such exams are comprehensive but not invasive. In other words, your doctor will evaluate your overall wellbeing, including individual aspects of your bodily health, but the exam is considered general. If you’re looking for a more detailed deep dive into what specifics you should expect, have no fear—the nuances of what to expect at your annual wellness exam are below!

The Basics

While there are no specific guidelines or requirements when it comes to physical exams, there are a few basics that are generally considered standard practice among physicians. Every doctor is sure to have their own approach and style, but the chances of them performing these common practices are high.

  • The history of your health is sure to be a conversation at your annual exam. Here, you will share concerns, answer questions about your lifestyle, and update the medical history of yourself and your family.
  • Vital Signs. Your doctor will likely check your vital signs. While different doctors check different vitals, the common signs include your blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.
  • Don’t worry; your annual physical exam is not a beauty contest. Your doctor will simply observe your appearance and look for anything concerning. For example, they will be noting your memory as you talk and your mobility as you walk to ensure nothing is amiss.
  • Common Exams. At your physical exam, your doctor will conduct several specific exams to evaluate how particular areas of your body are doing. These exams can include heart, lung, head, neurological, and abdominal exams, among others.

Gender-Specific Exams

When the general side of your annual physical exam is completed, your doctor is likely to perform a gender-specific exam. Think of this as the physical you had to undergo to participate in school activities.

These gender-specific exams will typically look for any noticeable issues regarding male or female organs and common gender-specific health problems and may include checking for hernias, performing a pelvic exam, and more.

Typically, no laboratory tests are required during annual physical exams. If your doctor has a concern that they cannot confirm, they may order tests, but those will usually be scheduled and conducted on a future date.

For older people, those with preexisting health conditions, and those with personal concerns, annual exams are invaluable. However, you should not pass on your yearly doctor’s visit because you don’t fall into any of the above categories. Everyone can benefit from an annual physical exam, including young, healthy individuals.

Are Annual Physical Exams Necessary?

Whether you’re anxious, busy, or just plain obstinate, following the recommended routine of going to the doctor every year for an annual physical exam is harder than it sounds. Despite the myriad of excuses we’re all guilty of making, the fact remains that yearly physical exams are exceptionally important.

How necessary can they possibly be, you ask? The truth is, even individuals in great health should make an annual doctor’s visit to get a more comprehensive view of their personal health, catch minor issues before they become major problems, and create an open line of communication with their doctor to share information and discuss concerns.

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Yearly Checkup

Aside from the obvious aspects of annual exams that make them vital—updating your immunizations, for example—there are numerous compelling reasons to adhere to a yearly schedule. Many of these motivating factors boil down to one simple fact—preventative care is better than emergency treatment.

Most people go to the doctor for one reason—because they’re sick. The frequency with which this occurs varies from person to person, but it leads to a single result. Doctors end up fighting fires rather than preventing them from starting in the first place.

Annual exams give your doctor an opportunity to assess your health on a regular basis and identify problems before they manifest themselves via symptoms. This effectively nips issues in the bud and prevents them from developing into more serious illnesses.

While there are nearly limitless examples that could be employed here, the most common and obvious include issues related to blood glucose levels, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol. Evaluating these aspects of your wellbeing can help your doctor ascertain your overall health, specific areas of concern, and what changes should be implemented if necessary.

Identifying current and future issues early is one of the most important benefits of annual physical exams, but the advantages do not stop there. By maintaining a yearly schedule, you give your doctors—and yourself—the ability to observe your health in the context of several years. In other words, you can see how your body and wellbeing change over the years.

From vaccine records to shifts in your BMI, observing the long-term story of your health can establish context and alert your doctor to any concerning changes that may occur. A single exam is helpful and can be insightful, but the accumulation of years of annual exams provides a much deeper understanding of you and your health.

Without consistent physical exams, minor concerns can develop and turn into significant health problems. By visiting your doctor on an annual basis, you give them the chance to catch issues early, address them, and stop them from taking a turn for the worse.

Why you shouldn’t skip yearly checkups?

The general consensus is that visiting the doctor is not people’s favorite thing. Even if you don’t dislike or outright dread going to the doctor, there is probably a list of alternative things you’d prefer to do.

Unless something is noticeably wrong (and sometimes, not even then), many people will not schedule an appointment and go to the doctor. While you certainly should go to the doctor if you are sick or have noticed a new concern or issue, a more comprehensive approach to health is better.

In other words, you should opt to go to the doctor even when a specific issue or treatment is not the motivating factor. Regular visits, generally conducted on a yearly basis, are key to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Different doctors have different philosophies regarding what these checkups should include and how frequently they should be done, but the consensus is clear—regular doctor visits are very important.

To help detail the significance of consistent wellness exams, we have put together a quick guide to what these checkups usually cover, the benefits they grant you and your doctor, and why they matter to your immediate and long-term health.

Identifying Risk Factors

For some, family health history and genetic factors lead to consistent testing for certain conditions and diseases to ensure those risk factors have not led to the development of a serious issue. For those without predetermined risk factors, testing for specific conditions is not often done without cause.

As such, screening for risk factors is one of the primary advantages of regular checkups. By looking for changes in your risks and identifying new risk factors, your doctor can see how your health is evolving, keep an eye on potential problems, and order any further testing you may need.

Risk factors for common diseases are not static. You may see them come and go due to lifestyle changes, the process of aging, or factors outside of your control. Going to the doctor regularly can alert you to these changes and keep you and your doctor ahead of any new developments.

Detecting Disease

Illnesses often announce themselves with the arrival of symptoms. When this is the case, most people seek medical assistance in determining what is wrong and how it can be fixed. Sometimes, though, a disease can be present without any apparent symptoms. When this occurs, a regular visit to the doctor may be the only defense against the invisible disease. Your doctor is trained to notice subtle signs that may be telltale of illness that others, including you, might overlook. Some of the screening tests like colonoscopy, mammogram are recommended based on age and risk factors.

If you only visit the doctor when something is amiss or on rare occasions, such sicknesses could exist and develop over time and turn into far worse problems than they would have been if detected early.

Preventing Avoidable Problems

It may seem like a given but staying up to date on your immunizations is key to avoiding many common conditions. Even if you think you have received the vaccines necessary to stay disease-free, regularly visiting the doctor is a good idea.

Some vaccines are administered at different ages or are available to people of different levels of risk. Annual exams help determine if you are up to date and, if not, which vaccines you qualify to receive.

Promoting Healthier Lifestyles

When the New Year rolls around, people around the world pledge to take better care of their bodies. They’ll go to the gym, eat better, and stop smoking. By the end of the year, only a fraction of those people has adhered to their promised lifestyle changes.

Going to the doctor regularly is not a cure-all, but it does give your physician an opportunity to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle. They can confirm that changes you have made are working, give you examples of success, and highlight areas where improvements can be made.

From an active lifestyle that benefits your body to practices that can improve your mental health, your doctor is an excellent resource for those on a journey to self-betterment.

Updating Data

Dealing with immediate concerns is obviously of the utmost importance. However, the necessity of long-term healthcare is severely overlooked.

Having a comprehensive history of your health and wellness provides invaluable insight for your doctor. It allows them to view the full picture of your health and how it has evolved throughout the years. This long-term perspective is key to helping your doctor see trends and identify changes of concern.

Updating your clinical data is also important to keeping others informed. If, for example, you need to work with another doctor, the information they have access to will be properly maintained and up to date.

Forming a Bond

A healthy relationship between you and your doctor is invaluable in establishing open lines of communication, trust, and a long-lasting bond that will serve you well through each phase in life.

Only visiting your doctor when something is wrong is not the ideal approach to developing a mutually beneficial relationship, nor does it aid your doctor in giving you the best possible care. To truly reap the benefits of a well-formed doctor-patient relationship, you need to be consistent in the frequency of your interactions.

Whether you dislike the doctor, consider yourself too busy, or are simply unsure of how frequently you should be visiting your physician, the fact remains that consistent exams are key to a healthy, happy life. While the benefits listed above are compelling, the truth is that maintaining a regular schedule of doctor’s visits is advantageous even beyond the points discussed here.

From screening for age and gender-specific problems to customized lifestyle changes that can improve the quality of life you’re experiencing, annual doctor’s visits are your chance to receive a professional evaluation of your current health, advice on how to better yourself going forward, and treatment for any issues that you are experiencing or are at risk for.

If you are ready to start your healthy routine of annual exams, reach out to your doctor. They can guide you in regards to the frequency with which they need to see you, what you can expect during the appointment, and more.