Seeing The Doc When You’re Well

Annual wellness visits with a primary care provider (PCP) are crucial for preventative care. Many common health conditions can be detected during an annual check-up, often before any symptoms. Early detection is key to effective treatment and maintaining good health. The annual wellness visit can be a powerful tool in the preventative healthcare arsenal.


1. High blood pressure

Since most people don’t have a personal blood pressure (BP) monitor at home, hypertension is often first diagnosed in a hospital or clinic setting. The machine can get an accurate reading alerting the PCP to a possible concern. If blood pressure is elevated, a healthcare provider may ask about any corresponding symptoms, such as headaches and shortness of breath. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, often lifestyle changes and medication are prescribed.

2. Diabetes

High blood glucose levels are often an indicator of diabetes. This condition can cause a host of health concerns if not adequately controlled and early identification is critical. At an annual visit, the PCP can assess risk factors for diabetes. In addition to taking a blood sugar reading, an A1C test can be ordered at the visit to give the provider a better sense of glucose levels over the past few months. Healthcare providers will likely recommend a modified diet, exercise, and medication to control the condition if elevated.

3. Cancer

A PCP is well-trained in conducting examinations for the early detection of cancer. In women, the provider will likely perform a breast exam, feeling for any unusual growths. A pap smear can be done to check for cervical cancer. For both genders, colorectal cancer screening can also take place at this visit. If any concerns are noted, additional testing, such as a mammogram, will likely be ordered to assess the situation further. In addition to performing cancer screenings at the visit, the PCP should also be able to educate the patient on how to perform a self-exam so a preventative approach to health can be maintained throughout the year.

4. Thyroid conditions

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are common, but detecting thyroid disease requires blood work. A PCP will start with a physical exam to look for an enlarged thyroid gland. Specific symptoms, such as weight loss, anxiety, and trouble sleeping, can indicate hyperthyroidism. On the other hand, fatigue, weight gain, forgetfulness, and heavy periods are symptoms of hypothyroidism. If an enlarged thyroid or any concerning symptoms are noted, a blood test can help investigate further.

Don’t put off that appointment

With so much to do in day-to-day life, scheduling an annual exam often falls to the bottom of the list. However, this preventative visit can make a big difference in the early detection of serious conditions. A PCP can help detect high BP, diabetes, cancer, and thyroid conditions. Once identified, lifestyle modifications and medication can help prevent further disease progression, keeping patients healthier for longer.