How often should you have routine checkups and how to prepare for them?
To prevent health conditions, you should get routine medical checkups. The optimal frequency depends on your age and chronic conditions if you have any. In this article, you’ll find out how often you should get a checkup and what are the advantages. Also, you’ll learn how to get ready for a checkup and how to improve communication with medical professionals.
The Optimal Frequency of Medical Checkups
If you’re 49 or younger and have no serious health issues, you should have a checkup once every 3 years. However, if you enjoy traveling around the world, you might consider more frequent checkups in order to get vaccinated against various diseases.
Women might find it reasonable to undergo cervical cancer screening every year. Women 40 and up will also want to have an annual breast cancer screening.
Those over 50 years of age should have a checkup every 12 months, regardless of their gender and lifestyle.
If you have a chronic disease, your doctor might recommend you have checkups according to an individual schedule, regardless of your age. The exact frequency will depend on your current health status, screening test results, and risk factors.
Advantages of Regular Checkups
You might want to have regular medical check-ups for the following reasons:
- To timely detect life-threatening health issues
- To find the appropriate treatment that will increase the odds of a good outcome
- To decrease the possibility of serious complications or worsening symptoms
- To stay up-to-date on vaccinations and screening tests
- To maintain an open and honest relationship with the medical professional who takes care of you
- To live a longer and healthier life
Plus, you will avoid excessive expenses that might be connected with treating complicated conditions that aren’t caught early.
What Will the Medical Professionals Do
In the exam room, the nurse will:
- Check your vital signs
- Verify your health history
- Ask whether anything has changed in your medical history since your last visit
- Do a screening assessment for depression or alcohol misuse
When the nurse leaves, you’ll change into a gown and sit on the exam table. The doctor will come to review your medical record and ask questions related to the data. Then, the doctor will:
- Inspect your body for unusual marks or growths
- Feel your abdomen and other parts of your body
- Listen to your heart, lungs and intestines with a stethoscope
- Tap your body (the official name of this technique is “percussion“)
- Do a Pap smear, if you’re a female between the ages of 21 and 65
You might need to undergo some other tests and exams, depending on your current health status and health risks. The doctor will discuss the results of the checkup with you. You’ll get to know how healthy you are and what you should do to get rid of your health issues or prevent them. A nurse will provide you with all the necessary instructions and prescriptions.
How to Get Ready for the Checkup
When getting ready for your medical checkup, you might want to do the following:
- Compile a list of what’s changed in your medical history since your last visit
- Mention all your medication reactions, allergies and symptoms in the list
Ideally, you should keep using the services of the same doctor all your life. If that’s not possible and you need to switch to another professional, you should inform them in advance whether you have any special needs (for instance, a wheelchair). When getting ready to see the new doctor for the first time, you should collect and systematize all your medical information, such as old records, vaccination history, and your insurance card. Take all these documents with you and be ready to answer the doctor’s questions.
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Tips on Establishing a Better Rapport with Your Medical Professionals
The more open you are with your primary care physician, the better they’ll be able to help you take care of your health. Here are useful recommendations you might want to follow during a checkup.
- Compile a list of topics and questions for discussion in advance and prioritize them.
- If you fail to hear what your medical professional says or fail to understand what they mean, ask them to talk slower and explain things.
- If it seems to you that some of the answers to your questions are incomplete, ask the physician to provide more detailed information.
- If you disagree with any recommendations, ask your medical professional whether there could be any alternatives.
- Write down what your doctor says. Before putting down a phrase or word, you might want to repeat it — this should help the medical professional make sure you understood it correctly.
- Get to know which communication channels you can use to get in touch with the physician to double-check any meaningful information after you come back home.
You should never feel shy when talking to your doctor. Some people hesitate to start a conversation related to depression, sexual issues, or other sensitive aspects. But you should understand that a medical professional has no right to share confidential information about your lifestyle and health unless you allow them to do so.
Hopefully, this article came in handy and now you better understand how often you should have medical checkups and why. People 50 years of age and up should have yearly checkups. For younger people, it should be enough to see their doctors every three years — unless they travel a lot and need to get vaccinated regularly. Patients with chronic health conditions should stick to an individual schedule that their medical professionals recommend to them.