Getting Routine Health Back on Track Despite the Pandemic
If you've been putting off your annual checkup because of the pandemic, you're not alone. A recent CDC survey showed, of the more than 5,400 surveyed, nearly 41% of American adults delayed or avoided routine medical care because of COVID-19 concerns. Restricted hours of operation and social distancing were also factors.
How often should you see your primary care provider?
Prevention is always the best medicine, but opinions vary regarding how often you should see your primary care provider. Adults and children should have annual wellness visits with their Primary Care Physician which will establish baselines so any changes can be detected early.
Health conditions that require regular monitoring increase as we age, but routine care is important at any point in life. Changes in symptoms or worsening conditions may have gone unnoticed and untreated. Medication side effects can also become more of a concern when many illnesses are being treated at once.
Scheduled preventive care is important regardless of your age or health. Annual and bi-annual screenings such as mammograms, prostate cancer screenings, pap smear, and physical exams offer the most effective options for early detection and better outcomes.
There are a number of factors that help your provider determine which tests you should have, including age, medical and family history, lifestyle, and current health status. A relatively healthy individual, for instance, with a normal cholesterol test result would need to repeat it only about every five years. If cholesterol levels test higher at some point, an annual check may be recommended.
Take time ahead of your appointment to write down any questions or issues you would like to discuss with the doctor and bring that with you. Be sure to include details like significant weight changes or chronic pain that may have cropped up since your last visit. Some day-to-day numbers can be useful to the provider as well. Diabetics, for example, might bring a record of glucose levels so the doctor can determine if medications are performing as efficiently as before.
Don't be afraid to take notes during your appointment and it might be helpful to bring someone with you. Sometimes the anxiety of the visit can keep us from hearing everything correctly, so an extra pair of ears can be invaluable. Older adults, in particular, may benefit from having a close friend or family member along to keep information accurate and consistent.
Additionally, enrolling in a patient portal such as MyReidHealth gives you access to lab and test results, after-visit summaries, plus allows you to communicate with your providers via the portal.
Finally, keep in mind how important preventive care is to your long-term health. We do routine maintenance on our homes and cars to help them last longer, so shouldn't we treat ourselves as well? If you haven't been to your primary care provider for a while, this is a great time to get back on track.
If you do not currently have a Primary Care Provider, Reid Health can help. Just visit the Primary Care web page and provide us with your name and phone number. We will assist you with finding a provider and can even help you schedule your first appointment.