Importance of Annual Checkup with Your Physician

You have been pretty healthy for a while.  You work out on a consistent basis.  You eat a healthy, well-rounded diet.  So, what’s the big deal if you skip your annual exam, right?  Wrong.  All adults, regardless of health status should visit the doctor at least once per year for an annual health checkup.  But, statistics don’t lie and not everyone is getting their annual well-check.  Gallup reports on the statistics regarding annual health checks among men and women, “There is a slight difference on this by gender: 83% of women versus 73% of men say they have had a routine checkup. This gender gap is primarily evident among adults under 50; 79% of women, but only 66% of men have had one. Men and women aged 50 and older are about equally likely to have had one.”  Regardless of age, gender or health status, everyone should be getting their annual checkup because it not only provides a comprehensive health picture and allows you to ask your physician questions but it provides the opportunity for a qualified health professional to examine you completely and they may be able to notice things or test for things that you may not be capable of noticing yourself.

An annual exam is often referred to as a “well check” and that is because, even if you are well, it is important to be checked because things like high blood pressure or cancer indicators can be difficult to notice if you are not qualified or capable of running lab work.  In fact, many people suffer from undiagnosed chronic disease without ever even realizing they are displaying symptoms.  People will take medication for frequent stomach upset, pain or headaches, assuming that it is a common symptom of just living or from an injury or something else but it may in fact be an indicator that something else is going on.  Additionally, cancer symptoms can be hard to spot on your own but, as we know, early detection can save lives.  Nobody wants to think about it but cancer is not a disease that just affects people later in life, the incidence of cancer in young adults is on the rise but it is far more treatable when caught early!  The American Cancer Society provides some startling statistics regarding the incidence of cancer in young adults, “More than 60,000 young adults aged 20 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States. About 4% of all cancers are diagnosed in people in this age range. About 9,000 young adults die from cancer each year. Cancer accounts for nearly 10% of deaths and is the 4th leading cause of death in this age group, behind only accidents, suicide, and homicide. It’s the leading cause of death from disease among females in this age group, and is second only to heart disease among males.”  When cancer is diagnosed at an early stage it may not have spread or caused other problems and is often more easily treated and the chance of death is greatly diminished.

An annual exam will take a comprehensive look at your health, including appropriate exams and tests to check your heart health, skin health, respiratory health, BMI, lab work to check your blood count and cholesterol, and age/gender/health specific  appropriate screenings. By choosing to get an annual exam with your physician you are making a positive health choice and providing yourself peace of mind that, should any concerns arise, you are catching them at an early stage that increases their ability to be properly and effectively treated.  By being consistent with annual health exams, you increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life!