21 Reasons Why Visiting the Doctor More Often is So Important
It’s impossible to know when you’re going to get sick or injured, no matter how cautious you are. But, there are plenty of health problems you can prevent, detect or improve by visiting your doctor on more regularly.
How Often People Visit Doctors
Most people don’t visit the doctor nearly as often as they should. According to a Household Economic Studies report put out in 2013, the average number of doctor visits annually by a working-age adult in 2010 was 3.9. This is down from the average of 4.8 visits in 2001. Among some of the larger countries in the world, the U.S. is actually among the lowest when it comes to annual doctor visits per person. While Americans tend to visit the doctor an average of four times each year, France sits at 6.8 and Japan at 13 per person.
Many people only visit the doctor once or twice every year, if that. Anyone with high blood pressure or diabetes (or other chronic conditions) should be seen quarterly. Infants should be visiting around 6-10 times annually. Many conditions may require monthly visits to be properly managed.
Why Visit Your Doctor More Often
1. High Blood Pressure and Increased Cholesterol Levels
Two of the most important numbers you can know with respect to your health are your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. For you to be at your healthiest, these numbers should be within certain limits, depending on your age. Many Americans don’t bother to have their cholesterol, blood sugar or blood pressure levels regularly checked. This neglect can lead to the the development of very serious conditions. For instance, cholesterol levels that are too high will more than double the possibility of heart disease. High blood pressure is a particular risk factor in everything from kidney disease to heart attacks. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to blindness, amputation and death. All of these conditions greatly increase the risk of heart disease. Having these numbers checked on regular basis allows you to develop a lifestyle conducive to achieving and maintaining good health.
2. Eye Exams
“My eyes hurt”. “My eyes are watering”. “I don’t like to drive after dark”. Are any of these you? Doctor visits don’t have to be limited to your primary care physician. One of your annual healthcare visits should be to your eye doctor. Your eye doctor can determine more than if your eyesight is getting worse. The health of your eyes can also tell the doctor a lot about the health of the rest of your body. An eye exam can determine whether or not a melanoma is present, an eye cancer that should be treated immediately upon identification. These exams can also show if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, a brain tumor, or macular degeneration. While most of these conditions are rare, having them identified early will increase your chances of reducing the symptoms or eliminating the condition altogether.
3. Better Manage a Chronic Disease
A chronic disease is a type of condition that lasts for a long period, sometimes forever. Once you develop a chronic disease, you’ll experience the symptoms associated with this disease on a continual basis. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to be in pain. By visiting the doctor on a regular basis, you can better manage your chronic disease and give yourself a chance to live a healthy life. For instance, untreated diabetes can lead to a wide range of severe side effects such as heart disease, vision problems, kidney disease, and infections. Regular visits to a Rheumatologist can lead to alleviating some of the painful effects of Arthritis or Fibromyalgia. There is no need to suffer when relief may be closer than you think. These symptoms can likely be managed with regular checkups with your doctor. You’ll be more likely to keep more severe symptoms at bay with the right treatment, perhaps even saving your life.
4. Identify and Prevent Problems Early
One of the top reasons why visiting your doctor often is so important is because doing so allows you to identify and prevent a wide range of issues early on. Detecting a possible health problem before it worsens or develops into a more serious condition can keep you healthy longer. From standard blood tests to mammograms, these simple procedures support a long and healthy life. Additional preventative screenings will allow your doctor to highlight your current health risks and make any necessary treatments far more effective. A quick visit to the doctor provides you with the means of fully understanding your health and what you will need to do to keep your body fit and healthy.
5. Heart Health
The most important aspect of your health is how strong your heart is. When your heart is healthy, the rest of your body shows this, allowing you to have more energy during the day. There are a range of issues that can cause your heart to become adversely affected, the most potent of which is stress. Issues with your heart don’t typically generate a lot of symptoms, which is why it’s nearly impossible to ascertain how healthy your heart is without visiting a doctor. A quick check up could avoid a heart attack, diagnose heart disease or avoid other serious heart conditions.
6. Lower Your Healthcare Costs
It sounds counter-intuitive, but visiting the doctor more often will also allow you to decrease the amount of healthcare costs you pay. Whether you have health insurance or not, the price of a doctor’s visit is mere pennies compared to what you could pay for a condition that you didn’t detect early. Early intervention could prevent surgery or a long hospital stay or having to give up your job. While the amount you pay for a doctor’s visit and a couple of screenings might seem like a hefty amount at the moment, you’ll be saving a lot of money down the road in both cash outlay and increased insurance premiums.
7. Avoid visits to ER and Hospital Stays
Visiting the doctor on a regular basis allows you to lower the number of visits you will need to make to the ER or hospital. It’s important to understand that underlying conditions may cause no symptoms that are readily noticeable by you, which means that the condition will likely continue to worsen until you will need to visit the ER or hospital in order to be treated. By visiting the doctor early, you’re able to get these conditions diagnosed and have them treated before they become severe enough to warrant a visit to the hospital or ER. Though you might deem a visit to the doctor to be a frustrating use of your time, making a trip to the hospital invariably takes up much more of your time and money than a checkup with your doctor.
8. Identify Current Health Risks
There are many illnesses that you could be at risk for without even knowing it. Your family could have a history of the disease or your physiology could simply create such a condition. By visiting your doctor, you’ll be able to identify which health risks affect you, allowing you to get an early start on preventive treatment. For most of the diseases you could be at risk of, such as heart disease or diabetes, there are likely measures that you could take to directly lower these risks if only you know what these risks are.
9. Establish a Good Relationship with your Doctor
Your primary care physician is the gateway to any treatment you require. Establishing a good relationship with your doctor can be more beneficial than you might imagine. For one, you’ll trust them more after visiting them several times. The doctor will be able to tailor a treatment program to your exact needs, allowing a swift recovery from whatever ails you. Your primary physician will also be able to obtain your medical history and provide the right treatments in accordance with this history.
10. Sleep Better
Visiting your doctor regularly can help you sleep better in the event that you suffer from insomnia or poor sleeping patterns. Most people believe that a poor night’s sleep merely requires a cup or two of coffee in the morning to recover. However, you should know that irregular sleeping patterns can actually increase your risk of suffering from such issues as depression and diabetes. Your doctor will be able to highlight why you’re having issues sleeping. You’ll be well rested and will be able to get through the rest of your day feeling strong and aware.
11. Manage your weight
Visiting your doctor more often will allow you to keep your body in check and help avoid weight gain. Most people don’t gain a lot of weight overnight. It’s a gradual process that’s very easy to overlook if you’re not paying close attention to your weight. Your doctor will have your previous weight on file, allowing them to tell you how much you’ve lost or gained since your last visit. A change of only 10% since your previous visit may affect your blood pressure and heart or indicate an underlying problem. By visiting your doctor, you’ll get a better idea of what you need to do to keep your body in check.
12. Emotional well being
Along with your body, visiting a doctor more often will assist you in keeping your mind in check. Depression is a very real condition that can affect anyone for any number of reasons.. Most people don’t really know how to identify whether or not they are suffering from depression. However, your doctor will be able to. Once you’ve identified that you’re going through depression, you can start to take the necessary steps to recover. Depression and other mental health issues can be identified through a mental health screening.
13. Establish a Medical Record
One of the most important reasons that you should be visiting your doctor more often is that doing so will allow you to establish a detailed medical record. Not only will these records allow your doctor to note any changes since your last visit that may be a cause for concern, up to date medical records are critical in the event of an emergency, accident, or serious injury that requires surgery, or medication that may interfere with your current daily routine. These medical records, or EHR (electronic health records) can be sent directly from your doctor to the hospital, specialist, treatment center or ER as needed, allowing them to have a better idea of any pre-existing conditions that they should be aware of when treating you.
14. General Lifestyle Choices
One of the more beneficial aspects of visiting your doctor is that you will be able to have an honest discussion about lifestyle choices you’ve made recently. Your doctor understands your medical history, which provides them with the knowledge necessary to help you know whether or not these choices are the right ones. Inform your doctor about any recent alcohol, drug, or tobacco use, if you want to start a new sport or have a baby. Your physician, in turn, will show you what your recent diet and lifestyle choices have already done and what they will do in the future. You need to be aware of which choices benefit your health and which only worsen it.
15. Learn About Any Allergies
Allergies can be dangerous, especially for people who are unaware of which ones they might have. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the symptoms are almost immediately noticeable and likely relatively mild. However, allergies to food and medicine are much more complicated and often very serious – even life-threatening. The first time you eat a food that you’re allergic to or consume a medication that you shouldn’t, the effects can be severe depending on how bad your allergy to the substance is. Your doctor can help you pinpoint what you’re allergic to, allowing you to avoid these things in the future.
16. Immunizations and Boosters
In today’s world, most children are given immunizations and vaccines early on so as to protect against outbreaks of measles, chicken pox, influenza, and a wide range of other illnesses. Furthermore, adolescents and adults have new vaccinations to protect against various conditions associated with sexual activity or ageing, and booster shots to ensure that they don’t become affected by certain diseases or infections. By visiting your doctor more often, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date with any vaccinations or immunizations that you might require, allowing you and the people around you to avoid infection from a serious disease.
17. Identify Changes in Family Medical History
A visit to the doctor can identify conditions for which you may be at risk, based on your family’s medical history. Changes in your family’s medical history are just as important. For instance, if this year a family member was diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor can determine whether or not the presence of this condition in one of your family members points toward your having an increased risk of developing this condition. If you want to be at your healthiest, your doctor needs to know of any changes in your family’s medical history.
18. Identify STDs
An STD, or sexually transmitted disease, can range from mild to severe in nature. People who have been sexually active must report this to their doctor. Your doctor will be able to administer tests to determine whether or not you’re suffering from an STD, which is important information for both you and your partner. Depending on the STD, early identification and treatment will allow you to stop the disease in its tracks or slow it down before it progresses to an even worse disease. For instance, HIV is a virus that can cause AIDS and usually does so. However, certain treatments are available that can slow the progress of the disease for quite some time if these treatments are administered early.
19. Peace of mind for your family
While visiting the doctor will invariably provide you with the peace of mind that you’re healthy and well taken care of, doing so regularly can also keep your family from worrying about you. Being able to tell your family that you’re fit and healthy or that a disease has been caught early enough to be effectively treated can do wonders for their overall happiness and well-being.
20. Migraines vs Headaches
Everyone will experience headaches at some point in their lives. Headaches can be caused by issues like abundant stress or too much exercise. While headaches are relatively harmless, they have a very similar relative in chronic migraines, which are a much more severe form of headache that can cause many of the same symptoms.
21. Body Mass Index
A simple visit to the doctor will also help you determine your current body mass index, or BMI. This number helps to highlight the percentage of body fat you have, which is determined based on your weight and height. Once your BMI has been calculated, you can ascertain how healthy you are and whether or not you need to lose some body fat to be at your healthiest. Knowing this number can help dramatically with your exercise goals, as you’ll have a concrete goal to strive toward. Regular visits to the doctor allow you to ascertain if your BMI has changed as of late.