Is An Annual Exam Necessary?

Some healthy individuals still choose to visit the doctor multiple times throughout the year, while on the other end of the spectrum, people may wait until symptoms of a medical condition appear. The concept of an annual doctor’s exam has been engrained in the minds of Americans. While healthy individuals may not have symptoms that require an annual check-up, a yearly physical can safeguard individuals from silent killers.

center for family medicine How Often Should I See The Doctor Scheduling Your Annual Exam

How often should you see the doctor?

The frequency of getting a physical exam by a doctor depends entirely on the individual situation. Studies haven’t conclusively determined whether an annual exam is effective at uncovering medical conditions. Healthy individuals who exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t smoke are less likely to need an annual exam. Annual exams can cause unneeded stress for young and healthy individuals. Younger individuals can get tested every 3-4 years to avoid any unnecessary testing. Sometimes, a regular annual physical can lead to overdiagnosis and ordering tests that can be costly.

Chronic conditions require special care

People with chronic conditions may need a unique treatment schedule to assess any positive or negative progression of the disease. Health conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension require follow-ups to maintain the levels of the diseases. Not treating chronic conditions can worsen the situation and lead to permanent damage.

Recommendations based on age

Age and having risk factors for a disease can require individuals to visit doctors more often. For young adult patients, blood pressure exams can be scheduled every couple of years. Middle-age patients are recommended to have cholesterol screenings every five years or so. Individuals over 65 are advised to schedule an annual exam with a doctor.

Recommendations based on sex

Physical screenings also vary by sex. Women may require an annual breast and pelvic exam. Women may need a Pap smear to check for cervical cancer every few years. Starting around 40, women should begin getting mammograms until old age. Men over 50 will need to test for bone loss and prostate cancer for comparison in the future.

Finding the right schedule for you

The frequency that a person visits a doctor depends on the symptoms present. No matter what, individuals should get checked out if worrying signs of a chronic condition develop. Patients can focus on maintaining healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the need for medical intervention in the long haul. For individual recommendations about tests and appointment schedules, speak with a family medicine healthcare provider.