Prevention, in medicine like in life, will always be better than solving a problem and early detection is key for finding solutions or at least for taking actions to achieve proper control.
These might be the main reasons to have routine planned health check ups, whether annual or within another interval.
Many apparently healthy people think, maybe from the experience, that going to hospitals or clinics is a waste of time and/or money because they consider is a doctors conspiracy to always discover something or cut on their budgets or insurance. But truth being said, finding out that there is nothing to fear is a relief and in case that there was something, wouldn’t you be happy to have had detect it on time?
Is it mandatory to do it annually?
We can agree that when bad conducted or overused, medical routine consultations might lead to expenses, unnecessary studies, use of not required medicine. The advice is always trying to establish a good doctor- patient relation with a general or family practitioner that will guide you on when, how and with what frequency to have your check ups.
A recomended behaviour might be to have a first integral check up and according to result and individual options, doctors can determine and advice on when to repeat your visit or Blood Pressure or Sugar levels measuring, or after how long to do your pap smear or if you really need those trendy supplements on addition to a healthy nutrition…
If your physician has ethic, applies evidence based and patient centred precepts while focusing on prevention, it’s safe to trust on whatever he might orient.
What are Routine Check Ups?
Those might be programmed during special situation like pregnancy or infant/childhood ages when it have even special names(antenatal care, well baby care); but the term is mainly used for medical examination and screening in apparently healthy people.
That enables your doctor to keep track of any changes taking place in your body that may be indicative to an underlying potentially harmful disease or condition that might go undetected, as often the onset of disease can be gradual and symptom-free until the later stages.
Centuries of medical experience have leaded us to study at what age or in what gender or circumstances is more frequent a condition and technological advances have given us the tools for searching for it to catch it on time or even manage to avoid it and the possible associated health crisis.
Whatever you call it, wellness checks, physical check up, yearly check up… its objectives are to:
- search for possible diseases so they can be treated early.
- identify and manage any issues or risk factors that may become medical concerns in the future.
- update necessary immunizations.
- ensure that you are maintaining or know how to keep a healthy lifestyle.
- build a relationship with your health care provider as is always better to receive a personalized attention from a practitioner that knows your history well.
What to expect?
More or less is a medical routine that at its first time includes:
Collecting your personal data: don’t think your doc is gossiping, your behaviour and social- economical status has a huge influence in your mental and physical wellbeing.
Family and personal medical history like diseases of your own or running among your relatives, allergies, surgeries, traumas, toxic habits, level of activity, diet, routines … for women and children the history of pregnancies and delivery circumstances may be required.
Interrogation about your current situation, searching for specific things to evaluate your physical and mental status and asking about your worries.
Physical examination: at your first one they will check your body from head to toes while during the subsequents they might just follow up on previous findings or go straight to the essential examination or to perform it according your complains or concerns if there is any.
They are going to see, touch, hear using the stethoscope (most of the times, a cold and not pleasent torturing instrument that they put on your skin); they might need even to do percussion to hear sounds in your abdomen or chest. Verifying your weight, height and other measurements or vital signs like pulse, blood pressure or breathing is crucial.
Your genitalia is part of your body. They will ask your permission for all but specially to exam there. Breast and cervix in women and prostate in men are two areas at higher risk the more elder you are. Always remember that once you are inside a clinic they stop being she or he; they are the Nurse, the Doctor, the Technician…
Oral-dental examination should be part of this study.
The practitioners may require some lab tests, ECG, ultrasounds, pap smear, mammograms or other studies to complete the check up.
All the procedures that you will experience have to do with your age, gender, characteristics and history.
The last but main part is the orientations where you might receive Health Education and preventive indications about the topics you require. You will be informed about findings and you will have the opportunity to discuss with your healthcare provider the future pro health steps.
How to prepare:
Collect the information they might ask you as you can read above. If opening a file in a new institution or changing your regular doctor, bringing records, medication list or vaccination card is helpful.
Wear comfortable easy to remove clothes.
Call asking if there is any special thing you should do, like fasting for taking blood samples, or not smoking.
If you have some topics you would like to discuss, write them down so you don’t forget. In the matter of health there are no silly questions. There is nothing to be ashamed of, none will judge you and increasing, minimizing or hiding details may bring some harm to you. Be open and honest with your doctor and nurse so they can help you better.