How Often Should You Go to the Doctor?

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doctor appointment

How often should you go to the doctor? If it’s been a while since your last appointment, keep reading to learn when you should schedule your next appointment.

Few people squirm in anticipation of their next doctor’s visit. Around half of Americans skip the doctor even when sick or injured. 

How often should you go to the doctor? Health experts agree that this number will vary per person based on their medical condition.

Check out this guide to learn how often you should visit your doctor.  

General Health

Annual appointments are recommended with your primary care doctor regardless of your age. A physical exam along with preventative screenings should take place at each annual visit to determine whether or not you are suffering from high blood pressure, blood sugar or high cholesterol.

Think of your primary care doctor as the link between your family medical history and your current physical condition. Your doctor can interpret where you are now and counsel you on how to avoid following in the footsteps of family members suffering from chronic illness.

Establishing a relationship with your primary care physician through regular visits helps to make the interaction less transactional. Allow your doctor time to monitor your health habits and help you set goals. 

Over time, your recommendations will get better as the doctor can learn how changes in behavior affect your overall health. Expect to be counseled on diet, exercise, slep patterns and your methods for stress relief.

When specialists aren’t available, primary care doctors can step in to help with things like pap smears or getting new birth control until you can make an appointment with your OB/GYN. If your primary care doctor also tends to get overbooked, house call doctors might be a great option for setting appointments that work well with your schedule.

Eye Health

If you wear glasses or contacts, periodic visits to the eye doctor is a must. The American Optometric Association recommends getting an eye exam once every 2 years.

If you’re older than 65, you should go once per year. Don’t be surprised if the eye doctor suggests more frequent visits if you suffer from high blood pressure or your family has a history of eye disease.

Patients with diabetes might also require more frequent visits. During an eye exam, optometrists assess your eye health including whether or not your current prescription is still the best fit.

Regular eye exams can help your doctor detect things like cataracts or scratches on your cornea. Doctors use pupil dilation to see your optic nerve and other parts of your eye to assess your eyesight. 

Visit either the opthalmologist or optometrist to get your eyes checked. Optometrists are not medical doctors but they can treat most eye-related issues with the exception of surgery.

Skin Health

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Few people will suffer without a regular visit to the dermatologist. The exception to this rule is with people with skin cancer in their family medical history.

Getting skin cancer screenings won’t decrease the chances of getting or treating skin cancer, but early detection does give you more options. Several risk factors for skin cancer include fair skin, light hair or eyes, lots of moles on the skin and skin that burns easily.

Too much sun exposure and damage over time also put you at risk for skin cancer. If you suffer from severe eczema, a regular visit to the dermatologist could be helpful in finding the right products that bring comfort to your skin during outbreaks.

Dental Health

According to the American Dental Association, the rule of thumb for dental visits is twice per year. Expect a dental exam and cleaning during these routine visits.

Some dentists offer deep cleanings based on the condition of your teeth. These aren’t necessarily required and may not be covered by your insurance.

Check with your dentist before unknowingly making a financial commitment for optional service. The main reason for your dental exam is to learn whether you have cavities, gum disease and other issues with your oral health or past dental work.

If you’re suffering from a severe case of gum disease or recently had major dental work, it may be necessary to visit the dentist more often for treatment. Your dentist will provide personalized recommendations based on your medical history. 

Mammograms & Women’s Health

Once women reach the age of 40, they should start considering getting a mammogram for early cancer detection. By the age of 45, women should be getting mammograms once each year.

It’s important for women to start performing self-checks at home in addition to the annual screenings. Knowing your body helps you report changes or potential lumps in your breasts between visits.

Women who are at risk of breast cancer because of family history might require an MRI in addition to the standard mammogram. Annual trips to the ob/gyn is recommended for most women.

The ob/gyn helps you track your cancer screenings and can help with basic fertility concerns if you’re trying to get pregnant.

A standard trip to the ob/gyn will include a pelvic exam to check your reproductive health. When pregnant, visits become more frequent based on how far along you are in your pregnancy. 

Typically, the closer you are to your due date, or the higher risk your pregnancy, the more often you visit the doctor. 

How Often Should You Go to the Doctor?

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The question of how often should you go to the doctor will change as your health evolves over the years. New medical conditions like pregnancy can drastically affect how often you see your ob/gyn over the course of just a few months. 

On average, once per year with each doctor and specialist will help you keep an eye on your overall health. For more information and health tips, check our blog for updates. 

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