Prevention Series: Annual Check-Ups

Why Schedule Annual Check-Ups?

Most people only schedule doctor’s appointments when they are feeling sick. However, did you know that you should be scheduling annual check-ups with your doctor every year? These annual visits with your doctor are extremely important because they provide a time to discuss information not typically covered during a regular doctor’s appointment. During this visit, you and your doctor can discuss your health history, any concerns you may have regarding your health, review current medications and go over immunizations. The overall goal of annual check-ups is to continue building a relationship with your doctor and help them better understand your needs as a patient so you can work together to prevent future health problems.

What to Expect

During your annual check-up, your doctor will most likely take your temperature, listen to your lungs with a stethoscope and check for signs of skin cancer. In addition, they will perform an updated health risk assessment. This includes:

  • Your body mass index (BMI), a ratio that checks to see if you’re a healthy weight for your height
  • Your blood pressure
  • Lifestyle questions such as diet, activity level, alcohol consumption and whether or not you smoke.

Special Notes

  • Preparation: It is not uncommon to get to your appointment and freeze up. Doctor’s appointments can be nerve racking and it can cause you to forget what you wanted to talk about. Before going to your appointment, take some time to do a self-check. Ask yourself how you have been feeling this year and if you’ve noticed any changes in your health. Write these things down and set your expectations for the visit. This will help calm any nerves and ensure you do not forget any important information.
  • Mental Health: For some people, the thought of talking to their doctor about their mental health is scary. However, it is important to let them know how you are feeling mentally and emotional, not just physically. You might think what you are feeling is normal or not a big deal, but your doctor can help uncover mental health concerns that are impacting your health or help you prevent the situation from escalating.
  • COVID-19: For those who have had COVID-19, scheduling your annual check-up is especially important this year. Some people who have had the virus experience lingering effects or complications, so it’s important to keep tabs on your health to ensure that you’ve fully recovered from the virus. Your doctor can compare your current health to your medical records to see if anything seems concerning.

To learn more, visit Harvard Health!


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