JUDD JONES: Annual Checkups!

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Have you had your annual checkup or yearly physical? Are you one of those people who either are too busy, too healthy or perhaps you don’t believe annual checkups are necessary?

As more people exercise and eat healthily, some people are putting off their once a year medical examination. There are even a growing number of doctors out there who do not believe a yearly physical is needed.

Many of the physicians who do not promote the idea of a yearly health exam point to statistics that there is little evidence that annual checkups are making people healthier or reducing premature deaths.

On the other side of the debate, many physicians who are pro-annual exams are pointing out early detection of skin cancers, which are on the rise, and identifying the onset of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health problems that are essential for proactive healthcare.

Other factors that can drive the discussion to have a yearly checkup comes down to age and gender. The majority of physicians agree people over 50 are more at risk of health issues, making an annual medical exam a good idea.

For women, yearly health screenings are a little more complex, with a few more factors to consider. First, most physicians agree that women over 45 should have an annual mammogram and women over 50 should have a more encompassing yearly medical exam. The consensus is - pelvic exam is done every three years. The exception to both mammograms and pelvic exams for adult women is if there is a family history of certain types of cancer. Then, a yearly checkup is recommended.

Lifestyle choices for both men and women universally become driving factors that should encourage you to have a yearly health checkup. If you are a smoker, obese, heavy drinker, have Type 2 diabetes or other chronic illnesses, most physicians would recommend you have an annual health exam.

Most health professionals see value in having regular health checkups. In this day and age of high health costs, catching health issues early on can

indeed save your life and your pocketbook.

There do seem to be some indications that Americans have fewer health checkups then we did 20 years ago.

Reduced yearly visits to the doctor could be due to rising health care costs, or perhaps the belief we are healthier now than in the past. Whatever the reasons, skipping your annual medical exam, in most health care provider’s opinion, is never a good idea.

Here are just a few reasons everyone should have a yearly health checkup or physical:

1. Proactive wellness - Keep yourself on top of the little things that could turn into more significant issues. Whether you’re dealing with a small skin tag, minor persistent cough or just a swollen lymph node, early observation and detection can stop a severe health issue from developing.

2. Affirmation of healthy habits - Having blood work done to check cholesterol, liver enzymes, monitor blood pressure and so forth are all critical indicators of lifestyle. By connecting with your physician and reviewing health metrics, you ensure your wellness. If you are slipping, you can then adjust and correct your lifestyle.

3. Catch serious issues early - Skin cancers, breast cancers, and colon cancers are all on the rise. These are significant health care concerns and problems that put your life at risk. Early detection of cancer and severe disease can mean the difference between life or death. Medical advances in the 21st century are such that it is likely if a medical condition is caught early enough, you will recover.

4. Self-care starts with understanding your current health and wellness. By working with your health care provider and following your specific vitals such as blood work, heart health, and body composition, you can manage your self-care throughout the year. Having a benchmark on exactly where you are with your health and wellness gives you the owner’s manual on managing your nutrition and lifestyle habits for optimal health.

There are what some may see as good reasons to put off your annual health checkups. There is even a movement among some health care providers questioning the necessity of yearly exams and instead opting for health exams every two or three years, depending on age and gender.

I believe there are too many variables and too many great treatment options not to have a yearly health checkup. Stay informed, catch issues early and maintain your health through a self-care approach by knowing the essential health numbers that you will get from your annual exam.


Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and Certified Health Coach.


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