According to a study in the National Library of Medicine, a regular wellness checkup with a family doctor or primary care provider has been proven to identify and prevent illness, reduce unnecessary care and save you on overall health care costs.
Oftentimes, patients miss their annual physical examination because they don’t understand what is included in a routine checkup.
Sumeet Goel, D.O., family medicine physician with Marshfield Clinic Health System, said there are a few things you can expect during most, if not all, your wellness checkups, depending on your age and health risks:
- Check vitals, including blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate
- Physical examination of your body to check for abnormalities
- Blood tests, including lipid panel for cholesterol, blood sugar levels and other tests, depending on your health situation
- Medication management
- Chronic disease management
- Discuss any health concerns
- Preventive care review
Screenings and immunizations are an important part of the annual visit to prevent chronic health conditions from affecting you later in life.
Adults have several recommended screenings based on age, gender and health history. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Breast cancer screening, such as a mammogram
- Cervical cancer screening
- Colon cancer screening, such as a colonoscopy or Cologuard®
- Lung cancer screening
- Diabetes screening, such as a glucose test
- Cholesterol screening, such as a lipid panel
- Sexually transmitted infection screening
- Depression screening
- Substance use screening
Prepare for your wellness checkup
During most yearly wellness checkups, your family doctor also will review your health history, ask questions about your lifestyle, and give you a chance to ask questions, too.
You can be prepared for your visit with health information and questions ready ahead of time. Your list can include:
- Current medications
- Health concerns or symptoms
- Records from outside specialty doctors
If the provider needs you to do any other preparation (like fasting for a blood test), they will let you know beforehand.
Questions to ask your family doctor
Having an open and honest conversation with your provider is important for your health. An annual wellness checkup is a great chance to ask any questions and get individualized answers from a medical professional. You can ask questions such as:
- Is my lifestyle healthy? Is this diet or exercise regimen safe for me?
- Should I get any additional tests based on my family or personal history?
- Is this normal – skin reaction, sleep, nutrition, mental health, sexual health, etc.
“No question is off the table,” Dr. Goel said. “Health care professionals have heard (and seen) it all, and the only thing we care about is making sure every patient is safe, comfortable and healthy.”
Connection to care
Your primary care provider has access to specialists if you ever need to be referred. Although referring you for your specific need, your primary care provider will stay connected and support you through your journey.
The benefit of an annual visit is to find any red flags early so you can manage your health and live life with confidence.
Schedule your appointment with your primary care provider today.
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