Everyone knows to see their primary care doctor if they have fever and a sore throat. That’s an easy call. How often you should visit your primary care physician is another matter. There is no set answer, nor timetable for everyone, but there are some guidelines.
Many think they don’t need to see their doctor unless they are sick. Unfortunately, that is short-sighted and can be a dangerous policy. Before we discuss how often and when, here are some benefits of seeing your primary care physician even when you are not sick.
This timetable should be based on 1) your age, 2) any risk factors you have for chronic illnesses and diseases like cancer, and 3) your current health status. Everyone is different so even the following guidelines are not set in stone.
In general for both men and women, if you are in basically good health and under the age of 50, it is recommended you see your PCP every three years for a checkup. After age 50, see your doctor once a year. Older patients should consistently see their doctor for blood tests/labs and follow up twice per year if there are no other issues.
If you have any chronic illnesses like COPD or diabetes, visiting the doctor should be more frequent regardless of your age and set by your physician.
A general check up should include height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and pulse rate to compare with former visits. Your physician will probably listen to your heart and lungs to note any abnormalities.
In addition to the physical checks there will be a discussion of any new symptoms, any issues with alcohol or drugs, and how much you smoke.
There are more screenings for both men and women and will be recommended by your doctor depending on your risk factors and weight.
You can take charge of your own health care and well being by seeing your primary care physician frequently and following their guidance.