There is no timetable for how quickly the individual needs to visit a doctor. While some people go many times per year, even when they are healthy and well, others forgo seeing a doctor till they are really sick. The right approach is to strike a balance. It can also differ for different people. Here are the factors to consider while deciding how frequently a doctor needs to be seen.
Factors to Consider
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When was the last time one went to a doctor? Once a clean bill of health is given, don’t start skipping visits.
Another important factor to consider is whether anything has changed since the last time one has gone to a doctor. Have you been ignoring a symptom or a mole that seems larger than it once was?
An important factor to consider is whether the doctor asked you to do a follow-up. Was it 6 months back or 2 years? Ask for the variations on schedules for routine tests on the basis of previous test results. Commencing at age 21, women should start getting pap smears every year.
A key factor to consider is if something one wanted to follow up on with the medical practitioner is prevalent. For example, there may have been ways to change the lifestyle and bring it back to normal if you are experiencing high blood pressure. It is important to follow up if the goals have to be met for good health.
Another crucial determinant is the family medical history. Knowing the family history is important as it can impact the risk of specific diseases and suggested screen testing that needs to be undergone. If a parent or first-degree relative, for example, has contracted cancer or a heart disease, it is high time you should be screened for the disease. The timing of how often the doctor needs to be visited varies.
Another important consideration is when was the last time the doctor was visited. Even if it has been too long, it is important to have an annual checkup. Bad health habits and consequences can sneak up on you. Proper diet and exercise play a critical role in health and genetics often come into the picture. If you have a family history of numerous cancers, high BP, sleep disorders, allergies or mental health issues, detect the same using yearly physicals. Early detection is vital for continued safety and health.
Age matters too. The national average for visits to doctors totals around 4 times in a year. Everyone sees a doctor at least for these number of times. Babies may visit the doctor with a higher frequency of around 9 times in a year. Children may visit a doctor only twice yearly. Uninsured individuals are also less likely to visit the doctor.
Some people only go to see a doctor when they have an emergency, and they need to visit the ER. Studies have shown poor people often go for extended periods without care. Early detection can save many a life. For example, if someone faces a stroke on account of blockage, they need to have a checkup and ensure that proper medication is taken. High BP is another thing to watch out for. After infants, persons with health conditions are next when it comes to visiting the doctor. Those with hypertension need to visit a doctor 4-6 times a year and ensure medications are refilled or adjusted. Patients associated with conditions such as chronic pain and injuries may even visit their doctor once every month or every two months. Pregnant ladies need to see doctors from the initial stages of pregnancy to the weekly basis.
Patients with more critical conditions may need to see a doctor every few weeks during chemo. Patients with dialysis treatment may need to see doctors and nephrologists several times in a week for treatment. Annual checkups are a hot favorite with most, but here’s the lowdown on when to see your primary care physician, dentist, dermatologist, and gynecologist.
Primary Care Physician
You need to undertake checkups with the PCP involving comprehensive physical exams, including vital signs, heart and lungs and screening tests for detecting bad cholesterol that may lead to heart disease.Till the 1980s, influential groups like American College of Physicians and American Medical Association had indicated these visits should take place on an annual basis. New research shows that those lacking chronic illnesses who do not take medications do a bad job of combating illness or lessening the risk of serious and chronic medical conditions. Annual exams can also lead to unnecessary tests and over treatment.
Leading professional organizations like US Preventative Services Task Force have recommended that annual physicals should not be the aim. Instead, one should opt for an age and disease-specific approach to routine exams. It is important to find the right percentage of visits suited for you. If BP is below 120 by 80, once in a couple of years is sufficient. If it is higher, one needs to be annually checked. The benefit of seeing the PCP on a regular basis establishes a rapport and builds a medical history.
How often one has seen a general practitioner is based on numerous factors. It is based on everything from the insurance plan to the specific personal disease risks for your years. Once the age of forty is reached, you need to go for a general check-up including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight. If you are young, not unhealthy and not at a great risk, it may be beneficial to stick to a regular check-up regime. Regular check-ups do not impact mortality rates. This is more so for cancer or heart difficulties. As per the recommendations, weight, blood pressure and skin tests are required each year. Check whenever a vaccination booster is needed for instance.
As far as gynecologists are concerned, all women should check their practitioner on an annual basis for routine health assessment. Annual visits include internal pelvic exam, and the American College of Physicians has reported that annual pelvic exams do not benefit healthy, low-risk ladies and lead to unwanted surgeries or distress. Despite such findings, an annual pelvic exam for women 21 years or older is critical.
Annual visits are a must. Along with a breast exam, mental and physical health and well-being, fertility and reproductive health are important. An important reason for annual visits to discuss cancer screening schedules is based on familial history and age. Consider the pap smear. This test is for detecting cervical abnormalities. It is performed one to give years for 21 to 65-year-olds. Annual mammograms are another factor you need to consider. Low-risk women need not opt for STD screenings on a regular basis, as opposed to active women.
Oral checkups are less negotiable. Adults need to see dentists every 6 months, irrespective of how old they are. This includes oral condition, diet and how well oral health is maintained to recommend the frequency of checkups. Limiting dental checkups involve brushing and flossing each day and lowering sweets consumption. This includes natural sugars in honey and fruit. If the hygiene routine is skipped, the result can be tooth decay, gum disease, and gingivitis. This will necessitate more frequent trips so make sure to consider this while skipping visits.
1 in 5 Americans develops skin cancer over the course of life. Seeing a dermatologist once per year for full body examination is recommended. Those with a familial history of family/personal skin cancer or moles may need to see the skin doctor more frequently. If there is a new spot or growth, make an appointment to get it checked. Skin self-exam is important and professional evaluations are useful.
If you wear glasses or contacts you should get your eyes checked once a year. Your optometrist will check to see if your eye prescription has changed any from your last appointment. They will also do some tests and examine your eye for glaucoma and other eye diseases.
If you don’t wear glasses then it’s suggested you should get your eyes checked every two years until you hit 40, then it’s every year. Of course, if your vision starts to get blurry or you’re getting headaches when you read you can book an appointment before your yearly check up. The key is to seek help before it turns into a serious problem.
Asking how often to see the therapist is not quite the right way to approach it. The key part of effective therapy is the process of building a trusting relationship with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors, based on the nature of the therapy. The therapist should fit in your schedule and give you a chance to work through your issues. Many therapy programs commence by suggesting weekly sessions, as there is a degree of intensity based on progress and a firm therapeutic relationship within a short instance. A more relaxed schedule is needed in other cases. The key point here is the quality of the relationship, not the number of visits.
Everyone knows it’s time to call the doctor when dangerous symptoms pop up, or your prescribed medicines run out. But putting off routine or usual medical appointments when pressed for time is a habit many people don’t leave aside. You need to prevent diseases rather than focusing on treatment. Wellness should precede therapy. Constant doctor appointments can help in staying ahead of shots, tests, and screenings, which is good for your health. Also, it addresses the signs and symptoms of medical issues before onset or worsening.
If you have a chronic illness or medical condition, it is critical to stay in constant touch with specialists. Factors like financial buying power, insurance coverage, and transport matter just as much. These factors can be a barrier to adequate healthcare. But for an average person, there is a magic number, when it comes to how often you should see your doctor.
Know the Exact Numbers
#1 Visit Your Primary Care Doctor/General Practitioner Once a Year
The ODPHP/ The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says patients should visit general practitioners or primary care practitioners/PCPs at least once a year. Essentially, the primary care practitioner safeguards healthcare and medical history. A wellness evaluation and physical assessment every year is essential.
As per the ODPHP, these visits should also include a physical exam and preventive services like screening for diabetes, cholesterol, and high BP. Counseling individuals about health habits or concerns and setting health goals ahead should form the cornerstone of such assessments. Typical topics of discussion include diet, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, sleep patterns, and mental health.
Yearly appointments with the PCP can help in cultivating ongoing, personal doctor-patient relationships rather than transactional and sporadic visits. Establish yourself with a practice you like and provider that is trusted. See someone who knows you well. You should be comfortable sharing medical records like risk factors, personal history, and family history. Moving or switching insurance can interfere with annual visits so factor the financial aspect in as well.
Another reason to visit your primary care provider annually is that between appointments with specialists, your PCP can help you. For example, if you are struggling with a throat infection or facing a severe eye infection, but your ENT specialist’s appointment is not for another few months, your GP can handle the concerns.
#2 Visit Your Obstetrician or Gynecologist Once a Year
Annual trips to the Obstetrician or Gynecological expert is a way to be alert about STI tests or cancer screenings. American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians even offers how soon you should meet your OB/GYN specialist based on patient age. Specific recommendations can also be found on risk factors and age. The specialist can examine the pelvic region for any issues. Sexual and reproductive health is a big deal, and neglecting to visit your gynecologist or obstetrician can have severe repercussions.
Patients often adapt to unhealthy symptoms or medical conditions instead of seeking a cure. Conditions like menstruation pain, pain during sex, spotting, difficulty in arousal, harmful vaginal discharge, or birth control problems need swift intervention. You can get reassurance on what is normal and how you can stay healthy.
#3 Visit Your Dermatologist/Skin Specialist Once Year or Whenever Recommended
For skin health, there are no guidelines or official recommendations for when you should check in with dermatologists. For example, consider how important it is to screen for skin cancer. There are no official numbers about skin exams. But this does not imply you should not find how to combat skin conditions based on individual risk factors. Skin cancer risk factors can include fair skin, light hair or eyes, a large number of moles, irregular moles, family history of cancer, skin burns or freckles and history of damage and sun exposure, as per the CDC.
People with such risk factors need to be screened annually. Dermatologists or skin specialists can make different recommendations on a case-by-case basis. For average healthy individuals with no risk factors, visits can also be once in two to three years. Always check with your physician for his/her recommendation in this regard. Skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema or even prescription medicines require seeing dermatologists on an annual/yearly basis.
#4 Visit Your Ophthalmologist Once in 2 Years or More if on Prescription
Vision is essential for good health. Periodic eye examinations are crucial, for this reason. The AOA/American Optometric Association suggests individuals between 65 and 18 years of age without risk factors should opt for an eye exam once every two years. After 65, the frequency should increase to a yearly basis.
Eye exams include many procedures to assess ocular and vision health. Pupil dilation is essential to see the retina and the optic nerve. Cataracts or cornea scratches are found on the front of the eye, during an exam. Always opt for an ophthalmologist, an MD or a non-MD optometrist who can treat many eye issues, although not operate.
For those with risk factors like high BP, diabetes, or family history of eye conditions, visits to the eye doctor should be more frequent. AOA recommends annual visits. PCP or treating specialists can also help indicate how often you should visit an eye doctor. They can make an assessment based on health and diagnosis. If glasses or contact lenses are worn, go at least once a year to keep prescriptions updated.
#5 Visit Your Dentist Once in a Year At Least
For many people, 1-2 annual visits to the dentist are enough, as per the American Dental Association. Appointments include oral exams to check for gum disease, cavities and red flags about oral health and thorough cleaning. It is also essential to check with the dentist about how often one should come in. Dental health care maintenance is personal. People prone to risk factors like smoking or diabetes should visit the dentist more often, for exams and cleanings. Low-risk patients can visit just once in a year.
#6 Visit Your Psychiatrist as Much as Recommended
Visiting your psychiatrist is based on your mental health. Major governing organizations like APA don’t recommend clear guidelines on how often the patient needs to see the doctor. It depends on the patient and the provider. Factors like the type of medicine you are on, how long you have been on drugs, and how well symptoms are being managed are essential.
Those who are stable, when on anti-anxiety medicines or antidepressants, may only need to see their doctor once a year. Primary care physicians can also step in. On the other hand, if medications have been switched or adjusted, your psychiatrist will need to see you more often. Three to six monthly visits are recommended, in such cases.
Factors For Deciding the Number of Visits
Most people see their doctor several times in a year, even when feeling well. But for others who wait till they are seriously sick, there is a problem. The appointment focuses on treating illness rather than preventative care like vaccines or screenings. Even for healthy people with nothing wrong, it is better to be cautious when it comes to seeing the doctor. Beating cancer can make a difference in your life, so do consider the importance of regular screenings.
Diet and exercise have a significant role in health. But genetics can overrule these efforts. If there is a family history of a multitude of different types of cancers, sleep problems, high blood pressure, allergies, or different types of health issues, physicians can detect this early. Early detection is critical for health and safety. The national average for visits to doctors is around four times a year. Consider that for young infants; the number is closer to 9 times in a year. Kids from 5 -15 years of age average around twice a year. Uninsured individuals visit doctors less frequently as against persons with private insurance.
Additionally, some individuals see doctors only when they have an emergency or go to the ER. Studies show uninsured or weaker sections of society often go for extended periods without required care. Prompt detection can save lives. For example, if someone has an arterial blockage which leads to a stroke, proper checkups, medications for lowering cholesterol, and timely intervention could easily prevent that.
High blood pressure is another critical issue that needs to be remedied. ACE inhibitors or other drugs can lead to stroke and heart attack. Individuals who overeat, smoke and drink or don’t exercise suffer more risk than individuals leading healthy lifestyles. So the number of times you should see your doctor primarily depends on your health condition. After infants, persons with health conditions need to visit a doctor. Patients suffering from high BP, for example, may need to see doctors 4-6 times a year and have medicines refilled or adjusted. Patients suffering from injuries or chronic pain may even need to see doctors 6-12 times in a year. Pregnant women need to see doctors from 4-5 weeks to once a week, depending on whether it is a healthy or complicated pregnancy.
Patients with severe or chronic conditions like cancer, on the other hand, need to see the doctor every few weeks at the time of chemotherapy. Patients facing dialysis treatment also may need to see a nephrologist several times a week for treatment. So, how often one should know the doctor has no one-size-fits-all response. Go at least once in a year for a checkup and ensure nothing is going on that may require attention. Here’s what you should consider when visiting a doctor.
#1 The Last Visit’s Date
When was the last time you visited a doctor? If you cannot remember the last time, it is probably too long. If you have been visiting your doctor annually, and receiving a clean bill of health each time, check with the provider before cutting back on visits. Even in the event of being perfectly healthy and getting preventative screening, it does not open up opportunities for general well-being. Talk about your health with your doctor regularly. Consider your stress levels, family and work life, sleep quality, exercise, and diet as these play a critical role in overall health.
#2 Are You Facing a Health Concern?
A clean bill of health does not connote you miss out on seeing your doctor. But in the event of a health concern, you must get to the clinic fast. If symptoms like stomach pain have been bothering you, or you are facing unusual rashes, which don’t seem to be getting better, consult your doctor immediately. Don’t skip planned visits to the doctor either.
#3 When Did the Doctor Tell You to Follow Up?
Check when the doctor asked you to follow up. Was it six months or two years or more? You can call the doctor’s office and check. Additionally, there need to be updated variations on schedules for tests that are routine. Also, make sure your vaccines are up to date.
#4 Are You Seeing the Doctor Often?
A cavalier attitude towards health is not risk-free. It is essential to safely moderate medical visits. Women need to get cervical cancer screening tests or pap smears every three years. Based on the age and the results of previous tests, doctors can see you back sooner than a year or more than three years without it. Latest updated screenings to keep you healthy change all the time.
#5 Is There Something You Want to Follow Up on With the Doctor?
If the blood pressure was borderline high, doctors might recommend ways to change the lifestyle and bring it back to normal. Those with prediabetes at the previous visit, or those who are overweight and trying to lose fat. It’s good to follow up if goals are not met for lifestyle changes. Check if the recommendations work for you. Professionals such as nutritionists can help you to remain healthy. Navigate health options by consulting the doctor.
#6 Has Something in the Family Medical History Changed?
Knowing the medical history of your family is essential, as it impacts the risk of specific diseases and screening tests that are undergone. If parents or other first-degree relatives are diagnosed with colon cancer, this may change when one starts getting screened for the disease.
#7 Do You Suffer from a Chronic Condition?
When there is a mild case of exercise-induced asthma, heart disease or diabetes, consult chronic medical conditions that require medicine and check that you are seen more than once in a year. Check if your condition is controlled.
When do Healthy Adults see a Doctor?
Certain groups, like the children and the elderly, require checkups with healthcare providers each year. If you are a healthy adult, be sure that an annual checkup is essential. Studies indicate annual physicals do not help individuals to avoid hospitalizations or illnesses. So, always make a plan with your medical provider.
#1 Primary Healthcare Providers
Healthy adults do not see their primary care providers each year. Frequency of visits depends on age and underlying health status. For healthy young adults with zero medical problems, a check-in visit is required every 2-3 years. A visit to the primary care provider is needed to check blood pressure, early disease warning signs, and weight. Middle-aged and older adults need to see primary care doctors annually to cancel out chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.
Routine screening with the primary doctor includes mammograms, colonoscopies, skin checks, bone density, family history screenings, and blood work. Once an individual turns 50 years of age, colonoscopies are recommended every decade. In the US, the incidence of colon cancer declines by 2-3 percent each time there are better screening and better lifestyle choices. Early detection can save a lot of lives.
#2 OB/GYN Specialists
Most healthy women see their obstetrician or gynecologist each year. Annual wellness visits are essential for ensuring sexual and reproductive health are secured. Women who are sexually active need to be screened for STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia. A pap smear and HPV test need to be carried out every three years, as long as results are typical. The tests screen for cervical cancer, so following the recommended schedule ensures abnormal results or precancerous cells can be detected earlier. For screening for breast cancer, start mammograms 1-2 years at age 40.
#3 Eye Doctor
Check with the primary doctor if a visit to the ophthalmologist is critical for you. Patients need to see eye doctors regularly, especially if they have underlying conditions such as diabetes that raise problems or increase risks. If glasses or contacts are used, consult your optometrist 1-2 years to ensure prescriptions remain current.
As per the American Dental Association, adults should see their dentists for six-monthly checkups and cleanings. The speed at which dental problems grow is phenomenal. Quickly hardened plaque known as tartar or calculus causes gum disease. X-ray screenings are essential once in a year for early cavities and bone loss. Dentists provide yearly oral cancer exams, checking the throat, mouth, and under the tongue. A bi-yearly schedule is needed for most adult individuals, those with periodontal issues or damaged immune systems.
Skin doctors or specialists are not just for bothersome acne. Melanoma and related skin cancers can be detected through a mole check annually by seeing a skin doctor. It is essential to know if your mole is just a beauty mark or an abnormal skin change.
Preventative healthcare measures are always better than reacting to an illness. Getting regular checkups for your body, teeth and eyes will help you to stay healthy and catch any problems early on. It’s also important for maintaining a health record so that your healthcare professionals know what your health is like when you aren’t sick.
Of course, if you feel sick or are having issues with your health, you shouldn’t wait until your yearly check up before seeking medical help. Book an appointment as soon as possible. But make sure that you are getting your regular checkups. They can be a life saver.