A special time for better health: Why you need an annual wellness visit
Most of us would agree: Going to the doctor when we’re sick makes a lot of sense. But what about when we’re feeling fine?
It turns out, seeing a primary care physician when you’re healthy makes just as much sense—if not more.
“Yearly wellness visits with a doctor can help you stay healthy by preventing certain health problems from starting or by finding problems early, when they may be easier to treat or control,” says James M. Minnella, MD, an Internal Medicine Physician at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. “In fact, wellness visits might even be one of the keys to living a longer, better life.”
What happens during a wellness visit?
Among other things, a doctor may:
- Ask about all the medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you take to make sure there isn’t potential for a dangerous interaction.
- Do a physical exam.
- Recommend that you get certain screening tests based on things like your age, sex or medical history. Examples include blood pressure and cholesterol checks (to help assess your heart attack and stroke risks) and breast or colon cancer screenings.
- Offer tips on healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating right and being active.
- Ensure that your adult vaccines are up-to-date.
If the doctor does find a problem, then what? He or she may offer treatments, such as medicines, or refer you to a specialist, if needed.
“Wellness visits are a great way to help protect your health and to establish an ongoing relationship with a doctor who knows and understands your health needs,” Dr. Minnella says.