Preventive care is incredibly important. General checkups and cancer screenings help keep you healthy and greatly reduce your risk of developing certain diseases. Everyone’s wellness routine is unique, but most adults should follow a general checklist of preventive care visits. These are some providers you should visit regularly and keep track of so you know when to schedule your next visit.
Primary care provider
Your preventive health care journey should begin with your primary care provider (PCP). While most healthy adults only need to visit their PCP once a year for an annual physical and checkup, you may find that visiting more regularly helps you establish a strong relationship with your PCP and keep certain symptoms or conditions in check. When your PCP knows you, your lifestyle habits, and your medical history well, they can make more personalized recommendations for preventive screenings.
Your PCP may be able to perform cancer screenings for you, or they can recommend a specialist. Adults 45 and older should get screened for colon cancer, and women 40 and older should get screened for breast cancer. If you have a family history of any type of cancer, you may need to begin screening earlier and more often. Consult your PCP for their recommendation.
Keep an eye out for new or changing spots, bumps, and moles on your skin, and schedule an appointment with your dermatologist if you notice anything. Even if you don’t find anything concerning on your skin, most adults should still visit their dermatologist once a year for an annual exam. If you have a higher risk of skin cancer (if it runs in your family, for example), you should visit your dermatologist more often.
You may already have regular eye exams if you wear eyeglasses or corrective lenses. But even if you think you have perfect vision, an annual checkup with an optometrist is still important for your eye health. Most optometrists will screen you for eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and other retina disorders, which can all lead to vision loss. If you experience an eye injury due to an accident or because of a foreign object like dirt or debris, it’s important to get checked right away.
It might not seem obvious, but your oral health is a big part of your overall health. Untreated cavities and gum infections can eventually spread bacteria to other parts of your body. This can lead to inflammation and conditions like heart disease. Along with brushing and flossing every day, keep up with your oral health by visiting your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning.
Women should visit their OB-GYN once a year for an annual exam. This usually includes a pelvic exam and a breast exam. This should also include a Pap test once every three years. Sometimes your OB-GYN may also be your PCP, in which case you can have a two-in-one visit when you get your annual checkup.
Regular health care visits are just one part of preventive care. Some of the best things you can do are to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and prioritize your mental well-being. Remember that your PCP can help you make a plan to improve those areas of your health as well.