Although it may sound odd, the best time to see a doctor is when you are healthy. As you enter your 30s, this becomes more important.
Regular checks with your doctor are key to a healthy and long life.
Why? Because these checkups can often catch problems before you even notice them. This is especially true for silent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Your doctor can also use them to guide you on the tests and screenings that may be necessary based on your unique medical history and age.
Setting a Baseline
You can establish a baseline to see a doctor before you experience any health issues.
A physical exam provides a snapshot of your health. It will be easier to track any changes over time if you have a series of these snapshots. This allows you to work with your doctor to adjust your diet, exercise, and medications to increase your chances of avoiding certain diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and carcinoma.
Your situation and symptoms will determine the frequency of your follow-up visits. A visit every two years may be sufficient for the most healthy patients, especially those who prefer not to see a doctor. An annual checkup would be ideal for people in average health. However, it is better to have three to six monthly checkups if you have chronic health issues, especially if your medications require frequent monitoring of the liver and kidney functions.
The most important part of your visit will begin with the physical exam. Your vital signs will be recorded and measured in just a few moments. These vital signs can provide an instant look at your body’s health and alert you if something is wrong. These are the signs:
- Body temperature. The normal temperature is between 97.8 and 99 degrees. A temperature above 95 degrees is hypothermia.
- Pulse rate. This is the measurement of your heartbeat. It’s usually between 60 and 100 beats per hour. The heart rate of females older than 12 years tends to be faster than that of males. Exercise, illness, and emotions can all cause changes in pulse rate.
- Your respiratory rate. The breaths number that you take per one minute. This is usually 12 to 20 breaths for adults. Exercise, illness, or injury can cause rates to rise.
- Blood pressure. This is the force of blood moving through your body. Normal is a systolic/diastolic ratio of less than 120/80. If systolic pressure rises above 130 and diastolic rises over 80, you are considered to be high blood pressure.
- Body Mass Index (BMI). Although not one of the traditional vital signs, this measurement ( calculated by a person’s weight and height) is very important. If your BMI is greater than 30, you are at higher risk of developing a variety of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers.
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Create a Healthy Picture
The rest of the exam should take between 30 and an hour. During this time, your head, neck, and feet will be examined. Your doctor will examine your ears, eyes, throat, and lymph nodes. Your doctor will examine your heart and lungs, and feel your hands and feet.
Routine blood tests may be required to check for things like cholesterol or blood sugar levels. This could indicate possible problems.
Also, expect to be asked detailed questions about your medical history as well as your family’s. This information can be used to help you decide if and when you should have your screening done for cancers or other diseases with a genetic component.
Your exams’ content may change as you get older. There will be more questions to answer. Cognitive tests, as well as tests to assess your stability and gait, will eventually be added to the equation.
Your doctor will also keep track of all immunizations you have received and recommend screenings for prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
These steps can be viewed as a way for you to live the longest, healthiest, and most fulfilling life possible.