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.

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