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As the year changes, we all begin our New Year’s introspection. Frequently, that introspection (and the accompanying resolution) focuses on health. We all want to live longer, feel better, look fitter. The best start down that path to good health is checking in with our healthcare providers. But where to start? Which preventative healthcare appointments do you need to make in the new year?
Annual Visit With a Primary Care Physician
Your first stop should be your primary care physician. Ideally, this should be the doctor who has been with you through any illnesses and knows your health history. A routine check-up includes checking vitals, blood tests, and following-up on any ongoing conditions your doc is managing. Men over 50 should also have a prostate exam annually.
You should talk with your physician about your overall health, any recurring illnesses or pain, and your health-related goals.Make sure to discuss ongoing prescriptions and their effectiveness. A PCP can give you guidance, or, if need be, send you to a specialist for additional help.
Full Dental Screening and Gum Exam
Nothing screams “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” like dental work. Dental repair work can be costly, painful, and all-around unpleasant. Get ahead of that with your annual appointment. A preventative dental visit includes teeth cleaning, films, and a consult during which your dentist will let you know which part of your dental care regime needs improvement. You can talk to your dentist about persistent issues like tooth pain, sensitivity, and whether flossing really is that important.
Women’s Reproductive Health and Wellness Screening
All women should check in with their gynecologist once a year for a wellness exam. This appointment covers health for the female sex organs, including a breast exam and a pap smear. Women over 40 may also have a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. Your OB/GYN will cover your sexual activity, reproductive health, menstrual pain, contraceptive use and answer any questions you might have about continuing care.
Vision and Ocular Impairment Exam
Ever feel yourself squinting while you read? Have frequent headaches? It might be time to see an opthamologist. If you’re not sure about your eyes, you can always have your PCP perform a basic eye test, but if you wear glasses (or think it’s time to start), check in with an eye doctor once a year to make sure your prescription is current and unchanged. If you have any interest in changing your eye care, like seeking out Lasik surgery to eliminate the need for glasses or contacts, be sure to bring that up.
Skin cancer is often dismissed as a lesser, non-threatening disease, butif left untreated, it can become dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Check in with a dermatologist for a skin exam and have all the strange freckles or moles looked over. It’s best to go into these appointments without makeup to give your dermatologist a better view of potential skin damage or abnormalities. Some dermatologists will perform a full body check while others will examine any spots you find concerning. Be sure to have an idea of what you’d like checked and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Getting these appointments scheduled and out of the way is a good practice for starting your year off in better health, ready to take on whatever it brings.