person at annual doctor appointment

Are Annual Doctor Visits Really Necessary?

Should you see a doctor every year? What about the eye doctor? Or dentist? Do you need a dermatologist?

Some people go annually. Others go every couple of years. Then some go every now and then, or when they determine something must be wrong and needs to be checked out.

But what’s right?

The wait to see a doctor continues to rise. If you’re sick, you may wait weeks to get in with your family doctor - unless there is a cancellation. Or you may wait hours upon hours at the walk-in clinic to get checked out (all whilst you’re not feeling too great).

On top of that, a lot of people lack a family doctor. There just aren’t enough to go around. Men are particularly prone to this problem (sorry, guys), which experts attribute to the idea that men generally don’t like going to the doctor unless they have a health issue they need checked out.

And women are absolutely guilty of this too. Yet, perhaps less so according to the stats.

But being healthy comes down to getting everything checked out on a regular basis. In fact, some diseases or conditions have a considerably higher positive outcome when found early rather than later.

So, what’s the norm? Let’s dive in!

Family Doctor Visits

Recommended Number of Visits: Once annually.

Unless you are sick, pregnant, or in need of shots, you should get in for a check-up with your family doctor at least once a year. It helps them update their health status of you, including weight, height, blood pressure, age, and more.

If you don’t have a family doctor, consider looking up some clinics nearby and calling them up to find out if they are accepting new patients or have someone they can refer you to.

Gynecologist Visits

Recommended Number of Visits: Every couple of years or every year if advised to do so.

As far as women yearly checkups go, you don’t necessarily have to see a gynecologist every year. But if you are over the age of 18, you should be seeing a gynecologist every few years to make sure everything is working correctly.

Further, if you are sexually active or trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, this is even more important. Usually, if you need to see a gynecologist, your family doctor will refer you. Occasionally, your family doctor may take care of some aspects (such as a regular pap test).

Dermatologist Appointments

Recommended Number of Visits: It depends.

Not everyone sees a dermatologist. Most often - if you have a good family doctor - they will refer you when necessary. However, if you have a history of sun exposure, skin issues, or skin cancer, this may be a visit that you should do on the regular.

Eye Doctor Appointments

Recommended Number of Visits: Usually, every 2 years.

For adolescents and children, once a year is recommended since eyesight can change quickly during this time in life. After the age of 40, annually may also be recommended as one’s eyesight may get worse after this age.

If you’ve got great eyesight or haven’t had changes in years and are in between ages 20-40, you likely only need to go every 2 years.

Dentist Visits

Recommended Number of Visits: Once a year or every 6 months for regular cleanings.

Most people dread the dentist - and we get it. It’s not the most fun having someone poke around and pick around your mouth, teeth, and gums. But your oral health counts for a lot. It can even play a part in your overall health - having cascade-like effects if it’s not in tip-top shape.

If you floss and eat relatively well, you may be able to get away with only going in once a year. But if you’re prone to cavities and aren’t set in your dental routine, every 6 months may be worthwhile.

Other Visits & Appointments

We don’t all need to see a specialist. Most of the time, your family doctor will refer you or recommend you to one. These may include - depending on your situation and health - occupational therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, ear, throat, and eye doctors, and more.

Since there are a wide array of health problems and issues that could arise relating to these specialties, it really does depend. Take the advice of your doctor. And note, that the above should only serve as a general guideline for how often you need to book appointments. It varies from person to person.

Preventative Health is Best

It’s always better to tackle health markers before they become diseases or blow up into full-blown illness. And that’s where regular check-ups come into play. It allows your doctor, eye doctor, or dentist to catch any warning signs early on and before it is potentially too late.

Your health is the most valuable entity. You could have all the wealth in the world, but if you don’t have your health, your life and your quality of life becomes at stake. Take care of yourself. Take those measures to get your regular check-ups in.

And if you don’t have insurance, budget for it. It comes down to planning your finances and planning your time. In the end, it’s worth it.

Related article: Wrist Pain? Office Ergonomics 101

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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