Many of us don’t go to the doctor until there is something wrong, like an illness or injury. However, we shouldn’t just reserve our visits to the doctor for those moments. In fact, it’s a good idea to get a yearly physical for a variety of reasons.
Reasons to Have a Yearly Physical
Reason 1: To Detect Possible Diseases and Disorders
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is called the silent killer for a reason – there are usually few to no symptoms until you have a stroke or suffer severe kidney damage. What few symptoms do exist, such as frequent headaches, are usually attributed to other things. Hypertension isn’t the only disease that can hide in the shadows, certain types of heart disease, high blood cholesterol, and even kidney and liver disease can all have very few recognizable symptoms during the early stages.
Having a regular physical, including blood work like a complete blood count, a liver panel, and endocrine panel, ensures that all systems are working properly. Checking them each year means that if anything changes, the doctor can detect and diagnose a problem early, and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Reason 2: To Monitor an Existing Disease or Disorder
People with serious diseases and disorders might spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office. However, those with more “mundane” disorders, like hypertension, might forego those regular visits because they believe that simply taking their medication is enough. However, conditions can change over time. Without regular checkups, you might not realize that you need to adjust, or even change your medication. There are also new discoveries and advancements that can make your existing treatment more efficient and effective.
Even if you believe your condition is under control, it’s a good idea to periodically check in with your doctor to make sure that things are going as well as you believe.
Reason 3: To Get Up-to-Date on Your Vaccinations and Immunizations
Adults don’t have to get nearly as many vaccinations and immunizations as children do, but they do need boosters – especially if they have never had one since their original vaccinations and immunizations in childhood.
Because measles and whooping cough are both making a comeback, it’s a good idea to get those vaccinations if you haven’t already. You can get the whooping cough, or pertussis, shot in a combo shot with the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines and the vaccination lasts 10 years.
Elderly adults should also consider the shingles vaccine and women up to age 26 (and men to age 21) should get the HPV vaccine. There are several other vaccines that adults should consider, if they fall within certain risk groups.
Scheduling Your Yearly Physical
The hardest part about having a yearly physical is scheduling the time. Most doctors’ offices are only open during normal business hours, which can make it difficult for working people to make appointments – especially if they don’t get paid time off to attend the appointment.
Another issue is that you might have to do paperwork in the doctor’s office, which can also take a decent amount of time. One way doctor offices’ have found around this is to use an electronic visitor sign in book. Digital Sign In has designed and built a visitor sign in book for the iPad that acts as a digital registration form. This way, all of your information is stored in the computer system and all you would have to do is check a few boxes to confirm that your information is the same, or enter updates where necessary. The electronic visitor sign in book speeds up the process of checking in for your appointment so that you can get in to see your doctor faster.
Some doctors also have hours on Saturdays and evenings, which makes it easier for patients to schedule appointments around their work hours. Each doctor’s office is different, so you should check with yours to see if they offer alternative hours for patients who can’t get in to see them during regular business hours.