The annual wellness visit: Why you need it
Believe it or not, one of the best times to see your doctor is when you feel absolutely fine. Doctors call this a wellness visit. And you need one every year.
“Annual wellness visits are an important opportunity to ensure that you stay as healthy as possible,” says Omeche Idoko, MD, a family medicine doctor with Mercy Philadelphia Hospital and Mercy Physician Network. Here’s a key reason why:
These visits help doctors find hidden problems that may need immediate treatment. “Sometimes we discover something patients didn’t know they had,” Dr. Idoko says.
That might be high blood pressure or high cholesterol or even a disease that needs a specialist’s care—such as hepatitis C, a serious digestive disease that attacks the liver.
Crucial care and counseling
There’s a lot to squeeze into these visits.
“But they may be one of the best uses of any half hour or 45 minutes there is,” Dr. Idoko says. “That’s how screening and counseling occurs.”
Among other things, your doctor will:
- See that you’re not behind on potentially life-saving screening tests or immunizations
- Review the medicines you take so they don’t cause dangerous interactions
- Check to be sure any known medical problems you have are well-controlled
- Assess your risk of future medical problems and advise you on how to protect your health
- Answer any questions or concerns you have
Finally, these visits are a chance for you and your doctor to build a strong relationship.
“That way, if a serious problem does arise, you’ll be treated by a doctor who knows you—inside and out,” Dr. Idoko says.