Aside from detecting health problems early on, annual check-ups also help to improve patient health literacy. In fact, a study found that the health literacy levels among patients who went to annual check-ups are much higher than those who didn't. This is mainly because annual health check-ups not only let patients learn more about their bodies, they also provide them with an opportunity to ask health care providers about any issues they may have, too.
If you're interested in doing the same, you'll have to ask the right questions. Of course, the questions differ per doctor — which is why we'll give you a brief rundown on the most crucial ones.
A question to ask your dermatologist: “Should I be worried about my moles?”
In your annual visit, your dermatologist will conduct a head-to-toe skin exam. This involves getting your scalp, face, mouth, hands, feet, trunk, and limbs checked. Your doctor may use a magnifying glass to inspect new or unusual growths on your body, which may be early signs of cancer. You can raise the above question after the evaluation.
Although most moles are harmless, those that have irregular borders and asymmetrical appearance should be checked immediately, aside from moles that change shape, size, and color in just a few weeks. If your doctor finds anything suspicious, you may be advised to monitor it or even have it removed. If this is the case, then you can discuss possible treatment options.
On the other hand, even if your doctor declares that your moles are benign, they will still advise you to be wary of too much sun exposure, as that has been one of the primary causes of skin cancer. They might even prescribe protective clothing that helps filter UV rays, other accessories like hats and sunglasses, and sunscreen with an SPF 30 at the very least.
A question to ask your dentist: “What lifestyle changes do I need to improve my dental health?”
It’s important to remember that your oral health directly affects your overall wellbeing. For example, if the bacteria in your mouth isn’t kept under control, it can cause cardiovascular, digestive, and respiratory diseases (such as endocarditis and pneumonia), as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease. So take the initiative and ask your dentist about the general health of your mouth and what possible lifestyle changes you can implement to improve it. You can mention your diet, vices (if any), and oral hygiene practices.
Your dentist might recommend brushing your teeth more often, using an antiseptic mouthwash, or taking certain medications. They might even suggest getting a sun tan. By exposing your body to the sun safely, it can get vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption. As a direct result, the extra calcium will strengthen your teeth.
A question to ask your primary care provider: “What wellness tests should I take?”
You have to take responsibility for your wellbeing, especially if your family has a medical history related to diseases such as diabetes. Unfortunately, there is currently a shortage of primary care physicians in the U.S., and there is expected to be a shortfall of approximately 139,000 physicians by 2033.
To address this, universities are developing quality online healthcare programs that will allow nurse practitioners to step up to the role. Advanced nursing programs are now providing registered nurses training in disease prevention, pharmacotherapeutics, and other fields that will allow them to become independent primary care providers once they graduate. Americans make 916 million visits to nursing practitioners every year, and many people prefer this to traditional physician care due to nursing’s whole-person approach to patient care.
During your annual check-up, be proactive, and ask the primary care provider if there are any additional tests you should be taking. Usually, these wellness tests will monitor your bodily functions, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and kidney function. Also, because they involve routine body examinations, these tests can detect any potential health issues. Therefore, the practitioner can then refer you to a specialist for further screening, should the need arise.
A question to ask your eye doctor: “Will my eye condition improve/worsen over time?”
While it's more common for people who already have existing eye conditions, such as nearsightedness and astigmatism, to visit an eye doctor every year, it becomes even more important as you age. This is especially true if your job forces you to look at a screen for hours, as it could prove to be detrimental to your eyesight.
After your check-up, you should ask how your eyes are, and if they are likely to get worse or improve over time. This way, the doctor can advise you on the best course of action. For instance, you might need a corrective lens adjustment to fix your eyesight.
If your occupation means you will be exposed to the sun for hours on end, such as in the agriculture, transportation, and construction sectors, you'll need a pair of glasses that can filter UV rays. Not only will these glasses shield your eyes from harmful rays, but they will also protect the skin around your eyes, keeping the entire area healthier.
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Taking charge of your health is important, as it prevents issues from worsening or even happening in the first place. This decreases your chances of more expensive check-ups and treatments in the future and allows you to stay safe while enjoying life.
We're here to help you with that! Explore our site for more information and ways you will need to effectively protect yourself from harmful elements, including the unrelenting rays of the sun.
Prepared by Alicia Hunter