Many of us wait until we’re sick or notice a worrisome sign or symptom to reach out to our primary care physician (PCP). But good health starts with preventive care — that is, taking care of ourselves before an issue arises.
Here are 6 health-related reasons to visit your PCP, even if you feel great.
Undergo Routine Health Screenings
A PCP can help detect many conditions, such as diabetes, heart issues, and even some types of cancer through a routine screening.
Many screenings happen every year, such as blood pressure and heart and lung function, or at other regular intervals, like cholesterol and blood sugar.
Your PCP can help connect you with cancer screenings, if needed. Some cancer screenings are based on factors such as assigned gender or age.
Many health conditions are easier to treat when found early, which makes routine health screenings incredibly important.
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Annual Screenings Recommended For People Under 30
- Annual well-visit with a Primary Care Physician.
- General physical exam, including blood pressure monitoring.
- For women, gynecological exams, including cervical cancer screenings and breast exam.
- For men, testicular cancer screenings.
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening and prevention counseling.
- Dental cleaning and screening.
- Vision screening with eye exam.
Did you know that people of all ages need vaccinations?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get regular vaccinations. These vaccines help protect you from influenza, tetanus, measles, mumps, HPV, and hepatitis A and B, to name a few. Even if you had vaccines as a child, you may need a “booster” shot to maintain immunity. Your PCP will make sure you stay up to date on the vaccines you need.
If you have feelings of anxiety or depression, your PCP can help determine if you need to see a mental health specialist. In many cases, your PCP can help you with treatment, including prescribing antidepressants.
Set and Track Your Health Goals
A PCP can help you make a plan for or stay on track with a regimen to help you create healthier habits. That might include changing your diet, exercising more, adopting better sleep habits, or quitting smoking. Consider your PCP a partner in any health goal. They can offer suggestions to improve your overall health and give you resources to help you start and maintain healthy habits.
Manage Chronic Diseases
If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, or another chronic illness, you need to stay on top of your treatment. Your PCP will talk through your routine and check to be sure the condition is under control. They may suggest lifestyle changes or a new medicine that can improve your quality of life.
Get a Referral to a Specialist
Your PCP can help diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. However, you may need a specialist if your health situation is particularly complex. This might include an endocrinologist for diabetes, a neurologist for conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or a rheumatologist for arthritis.
While your annual check-up is important, you should reach out to your PCP if you notice a change in your health or have a question. Prioritizing regular visits to your PCP is one of the best ways to stay healthy for a lifetime.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
Table 1. RecommendedAdult Immunization Schedule for ages 19 years or older, United States, 2020; CDC.gov;accessed May 25, 2020, Link
Elaine K. Howley. 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Starting Antidepressants. US News and World Report. Link
Orly Avitzur, M.D. When Do You Need a Specialist Doctor? Consumer Reports. Link
About Primary Care
The relationship with a patient and their primary care doctor can be extremely valuable, and that’s what you get with UPMC Primary Care. When you work with a primary care physician (PCP), you develop a lasting relationship. Your doctor will get to know you and your history and can plan your treatments accordingly. Our PCPs offer a variety of services, including preventive care and treatment for both urgent and chronic conditions. With dozens of UPMC Primary Care locations across our network of care, you can find a PCP close to you. Schedule an appointment today.