Seven Doctors You Should See Every Year
Identifying the doctors you should see every year is important if you want to maintain your health. Even if you feel healthy now, as you get older, your physical health can easily change. The changes that take place based on natural aging processes, as well as environmental influences, have led to medical professionals recommending annual appointments with certain specialists, as well as specific screening tests for common medical conditions. Seeing recommended types of medical specialists each year can help you to identify and treat health issues early on. These types of appointments can simply help you maintain your physical health, while others may become a matter of life or death. Below is a list of seven types of doctors you should see on an annual basis and the tests you should undergo to keep yourself healthy.
You may already know that it is recommended that you get your teeth cleaned twice per year, but you may not realize that your dentist can perform other preventative services for you. For example, once per year it is generally a good idea to get dental x-rays, as they can provide you information about the general health of your teeth and gums. In some cases, x-rays can identify problems which, if left unchecked, could allow you to develop hazardous infections.
Primary Care Physician (PCP)
Most experts agree that you should see your primary care physician at least once per year for a general physical. Physical exams can help you identify problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments. Your PCP can also help you to address other concerns such as depression, sexual health issues or general aches and pains.
In addition to seeing your PCP once a year for preventative purposes, you should also make a PCP appointment if you have illnesses or wellness concerns throughout the year. Examples of such concerns might include flu, unusual moles, arthritis, etc. You may need a referral from your PCP in order to see many of the other specialists listed below as well.
How often you should see your ophthalmologist depends on your age and general eye health. If you wear contact lenses, for example, it is recommended that you see your ophthalmologist at least once per year. The same is true if you are over 65 years of age. However, if you are under 65 years of age and have no obvious vision problems, then seeing your ophthalmologist once every two years is generally acceptable. On the other hand, medical conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts may require you to see your ophthalmologist more than once per year.
When you make an annual dermatology appointment, your dermatologist can check you for skin cancer and other issues. If there is a history of skin cancer in your family or you notice any unusual moles or marks on your skin, then you should make a dermatology appointment immediately and follow up each year. However, even if you have no such marks on your skin or history, a preventative dermatology appointment each year is a good idea. Your dermatologist can also help you to address other skin concerns, such as dry skin, flaky skin, allergies or skin sensitivity.
If you are female, then you should have a pelvic exam at least once per year. Gynecological exams can help you to identify reproductive cancers, polyps or fertility issues. Your gynecologist can also screen you for sexually-transmitted diseases and other reproductive health concerns by performing pap smears and STD tests.
Most PCPs and other experts agree that, if you are an adult female, you should also see a radiologist for a mammogram once per year to screen for breast cancer. However, some experts may recommend that those annual exams begin when you reach 40 years of age. Others may only recommend annual mammograms when you reach over 50 years of age. Additionally, extenuating circumstances such as irregularities detected during physical exams or a family medical history of breast cancer may lead to your PCP recommending that you have annual mammograms even if you have not yet reached 40 years of age.
Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, you should make a proctology appointment if you have any concerns relating to your bowels. For example, if you have a family history of colon cancer, a proctology appointment may be beneficial to you. However, if you are male, then it is particularly important for you to be tested by a proctologist for prostate cancer. Your age and risk factors will determine how often you should be screened.
If you are at a high risk for prostate cancer based on your family history and other health factors, then your PCP or proctologist may recommend that you begin annual prostate screenings as early as 40 years of age. You may be able to wait for an initial screening until you are 50 years of age if your risk factors are low. In either case, the results of your initial test will dictate whether your proctologist requires you to come back for annual screenings or recommends that you to be screened every two years from that point forward.