Most people think about going to their primary care provider’s office when they are sick, but did you know it’s also recommended to visit your health center, on average, once per year when you are healthy? This is commonly called a “yearly physical” or “annual preventive visit.” The goal of this visit is to promote health and prevent disease. There are several diseases we can either prevent or catch early before they cause you problems– and most of these don’t have any symptoms, meaning that you feel fine and might not know that something is wrong.
- High blood pressure
- Diabetes or Pre-diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Certain cancers, such as cervical, breast, or colon cancer
- Certain sexually transmitted infections
Coming in for a yearly physical is also a great chance to make sure you are up-to-date on the recommended vaccines (such as your yearly flu shot, tetanus booster, or pneumonia vaccine), and talk to your primary care provider about any other recommended screenings based on your age and risk factors. For example, did you know all baby boomers are advised to be screened for Hepatitis C? This is a virus that can be silent for years but ultimately cause liver damage or even cancer. The good news is we have a cure, and all it takes is a simple blood test to detect it.
At your annual physical, you and your primary care provider will together come up with a plan to ensure you stay healthy and work on any areas that might be holding you back or hurting your health.
Over time, the more you get to know your primary care provider, the more comfortable you will feel seeking help if something does go wrong. And believe it or not, the better your primary care provider knows you, the better care they will be able to give you.
Summer is a great time to schedule an appointment for your yearly physical. Call your health center today!
Melissa Mashni, MD
Family Medicine Director