The Importance of Annual Check Ups
An annual check up (also known as a wellness exam) is an annual visit with your primary care provider that helps you and your provider stay current and proactive on all your health care needs.
Annual check ups and their accompanying screening tests are an important part of health maintenance and preventive care. Why? Because early detection of diseases can be the key to successful treatment. The sooner you can detect and start to treat disease, the greater the chances of a better health outcome.
Should I have an Annual Check Up during a Pandemic?
Preventive care is no less important during a pandemic. Keeping yourself safe from COVID-19 should not happen at the expense of your non-COVID-19 related health. Yearly check ups are an important first step in the diagnosis of health problems that if left unaddressed, could turn into more serious health issues.
Primary care clinics. imaging centers, and labs are keeping their facilities as sterile as possible to ensure that patients and healthcare providers are safe. Primary care clinics are also offering telehealth visits to stay in touch and stay current with their patients’ ongoing physical and mental conditions.
With the stressors of the pandemic taking a toll on everyone’s mental and physical health, it is more important than ever to stay in touch with your primary care team. A primary care provider can assess your level of stress and provide professional advice and assistance. When needed, your provider can provide medication to keep anxiety and depression in a manageable state.
For all of these health reasons, the importance of annual wellness checkups with your primary care provide–whether in person, a phone call, or via a video on the internet—should not be overlooked. Your primary care provider is your health care partner and your health care advocate in sickness and health. Your primary care clinic is your health care home base.
Six important reasons not to skip an annual wellness exam
Here are 6 important reasons all adults should get an annual check as well as the appropriate screenings your provider recommends:
1. Prevention of illnesses and diseases
- Screenings such as colonoscopies and breast imaging, blood work, and lab tests can catch serious diagnoses such as colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis, and other diseases when these diseases are at their most treatable stage. If you are due for annual screenings, it is important to stay on your schedule. Your primary care provider will assess which screenings you need and order the appropriate blood tests.
2. Staying Current on vaccines and immunizations
- Staying current on vaccines and immunizations can significantly reduce your chances of getting very sick with preventable illnesses. These diseases include covid-19, the flu, measles, mumps, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, shingles, pneumonia, and others.
3. Maintenance of health
- At your annual visit, discuss with your primary care provider any ongoing or new health issues that may have presented themselves, especially issues that have arisen during the pandemic. These might include shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain, change in appetite, depression, and anxiety.
4. Management of chronic conditions
- Your provider will discuss any chronic health conditions you have such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, migraines, etc. Maintaining at minimum a yearly check-in with your provider is critical to the management of chronic diseases. Do not try to manage chronic conditions without regular, ongoing medical supervision.
5. Setting goals for long-term health
- Reviewing your personal and family health history with your provider at your annual visit helps you understand what should, or can be, done to reduce your risks for health concerns. Diet, exercise, substance use, and other habits should be covered at your annual visit.
6. Being aware of natural aging issues
- It is helpful to talk with your provider about health issues you should be keeping in mind as you get older and what you might do to prevent such developments as joint pain, bone loss, weakening eyesight, incontinence, hearing loss, or other problems that can often accompany aging.
What is Done at a Wellness Exam
During these unusual times of a pandemic, much of what is covered in an annual check up can be done during a telehealth video visit if necessary. The important thing is to not let your wellness visits lapse.
Annual check up items that can be discussed in a telehealth visit include:
- Listing and updating of all prescription drugs and supplements taken
- Review of medical and family history
- Listing and updating of all medical providers, including specialists, counselors, and physical therapists
- Discussion about any health and medical concerns or changes, and referrals to specialists when needed
- Medical record review to determine if a physical exam or labs (blood or urine) need to be scheduled
- Establishment and maintenance of a schedule for preventative cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies
- Evaluation of cognitive and mental health variables
- Discussion of current health habits and the delivery of personalized professional health advice, including review of tobacco and alcohol use, risk of sexually transmitted infections, diet, and exercise habits
At Catawba Valley Healthcare in Hickory, NC, we encourage all our patients to have annual wellness visits with a primary care provider. By becoming an established patient in our medical practice, you have a clinical home where our providers know your medical history, monitor your health on an ongoing basis, and are here for you in times of immediate need.
Contact us at Catawba Valley Healthcare Primary Care with any questions you may have about our wellness exams, telehealth services, and our commitment to preventative medicine.