1. General health maintenance. Even if you are healthy, it is important to go for an annual checkup with your doctor. Staying up to date with vaccinations and screenings will be sure to keep your health in great shape. While important for yourself to prevent diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, vaccinations can also help keep others around you healthy through what is known as “herd immunity.” When healthy people get their vaccinations, it protects those who cannot get vaccinated because of weakened immune systems or age restrictions.
2. Family history. Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, family history can affect your health. If you are aware that certain conditions, like high blood pressure, cancer, or diabetes, run in your family, then you can be aware of those risk factors and your doctor can monitor you closely to make sure that you avoid those diseases, if possible. A regular checkup will give you an idea where you should make adjustments in your diet or physical activity levels, which can help reduce the risk of familial diseases.
3. Know your numbers. Knowing important numbers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, can help prevent disease or treat diseases that you don’t know you have. High cholesterol has been shown to double the risk of heart disease and over 70 million Americans currently have elevated “bad” cholesterol. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked on a regular basis can give a baseline number to compare to while you are healthy, or can indicate if a lifestyle change is needed to improve your health.
4. STD prevention. If you are sexually active, getting checked for STDs on a regular basis is a must. When going for your checkup, make sure you are open and honest with your doctor so as to identify potential risks for STD exposure so the right tests can be done. According to the CDC, all adults should be tested at least once for HIV and all sexually active adults should be tested for a variety of other STDs. More information can be found at www.stdaware.com.
5. Early treatment. Many illnesses and diseases can be prevented, treated or cured if caught early and a regular exam will increase the chances of early signs and symptoms being properly diagnosed if something is wrong. Many people live with type ii diabetes and/or high glucose levels and don’t realize it. This can have extreme adverse effects in the body that could be avoided if diabetes is diagnosed early, or if the risk of developing diabetes is caught early it could be avoided completely. Similarly, most cancers are much more easily treated if caught early and an annual checkup will increases the chances of early detection.