By Abbey Droessler – Southwest Health
Time seems to fly when in a pandemic. While it might feel like you are permanently stuck in 2020, 2022 is indeed just around the corner. Another fact of life? Your need for a wellness visit hasn’t stopped just because it feels like time has. There could be a few reasons why you’ve been putting off care. Have you been scared to come in due to COVID-19? Was your appointment canceled in early 2020 and hasn’t been rescheduled? Or perhaps you simply haven’t realized how much time has passed! While you’ve been inside, waiting out this pandemic, your body has probably been sending out some strong messages that you’ve been ignoring. But do not fear! Below is a helpful guide to remind you about all those yearly screenings or visits you should be doing with your provider. If anything below applies to you, it might be time to give your friendly Southwest Health provider a call.
There are many reasons why it’s essential to get regular checkups. Just a few are highlighted below.
- Meeting with your provider at least once a year reduces your risk of getting sick by checking in and learning new ways to live a healthier life by improving your health.
- Detecting potentially life-threatening health conditions before your condition worsens is more likely with regular monitoring through blood work, screenings, and talking with your doctor. The earlier your diagnosis or symptoms are found, the higher the chances are for correct treatment and, ultimately, good outcomes.
- Forming a good working relationship with your doctor is the key to understanding your health and what it takes to live a long, healthy life. Maybe most importantly, with regular checkups, your fear and anxiety around going to the doctor can start to decrease. Once that happens, and you feel more comfortable talking openly about your health and any questions you may have, the better your relationship with your provider becomes.
Below are three main takeaways to consider if your doctor hasn’t seen you in a while. Remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Just getting back to Southwest Health and setting up that first appointment is the first priority. The topics referenced below are significant because they help you and your provider create a baseline of your health while protecting both you and the health of your community.
There are just a few reoccurring medical visits that you may have forgotten about since COVID-19 has seemed to have taken over everyone’s lives. If you can’t remember the last time you or your family have seen the doctor for any of the below, it might be time to make an appointment.
Cancer Screenings. The key to fighting cancer is early detection. That task becomes a lot more difficult the longer discovery is delayed, and your body continues to develop the disease. If you have never had either a colonoscopy or mammogram and you’re above 45, it’s time to set up an appointment.
- Did you know that the age recommendation for colonoscopies has recently changed from 50 years old to 45? That means you might be overdue for an exam. While colonoscopies are understandably something you may have been putting off, this age change and the risk of developing colon cancer are two critical motivators to get scheduled.
- Mammogram. Women should have a mammogram every year between 45 to 55 and every two years if older than 55. A mammogram can be a great aid in early detection, which helps to save lives. Breast cancer is very prevalent, with 1 in 8 women developing the disease in their lifetime. Early detection and getting screened every year can help you lower your risk of serious complications.
Vaccines. While it is encouraged for everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine to do so, don’t forget about staying up-to-date on your other necessary vaccines for both yourself and your school-aged children. A few common vaccines are listed below, but if you’re questioning your need for a specific vaccine, give your provider a call and ask! They will be happy to walk you through what’s missing from your immunization records or what needs to be updated.
- Flu Shot. It’s not too late to get a flu shot for the year! The flu usually peaks between December and February, so getting one now can help protect you and your family from the dreaded chills and aches that come with the virus.
- Shingles. Adults over the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine to protect themselves against the painful rash and blister combination and the complications that arise with them.
- Tetanus. Suppose you’re not up to date on your tetanus shot or don’t know when you first got it. In that case, it’s highly recommended to check in with your provider, especially if you are working in fields like farming, construction, landscaping, or anything similar where you are at a higher risk of contracting tetanus.
- HPV. The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for preteens from age 11 to adults until age 26 to protect against the Human Papillomavirus, which can cause different cancers later in life. Getting the vaccine now can protect your child in the future.
- COVID-19 & COVID – 19 Booster. If you’re looking to get your COVID-19 booster or start the COVID-19 vaccination series for the first time, give Southwest Health a call to get your questions answered and set up an appointment! All adults and children age 5 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Eye Exams. Regular eye exams can help your doctor discover irregularities before they seriously affect your vision. Here is a quick guide on who should be getting eye exams and at what frequency.
- Babies should get a baseline exam by the time they are six months old to ensure no issues need to be corrected. After that exam, children are recommended to get tested before starting school and every 1 -2 years after that. An eye exam is the only way to ensure your child sees clearly and can fully participate while in school. While most children can pass a vision test at school, this doesn’t screen for more severe problems like myopia, which is becoming more prevalent in children. Scheduling a yearly eye exam can help give you peace of mind that your children have all the tools they need to succeed, in and out of the classroom.
- People with Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has found that 40% of people living with diabetes are likely to develop glaucoma in their life. Glaucoma is described as having an intense pressure against the eyes, causing blindness if not treated properly. Also, being diabetic puts people at a higher risk of severe complications, meaning it’s more important to get their eyes checked at least once a year to make sure any potential issues are being appropriately treated in the correct timeframe.
- Adults over 60. Because adults over 60 are more prone to diseases that specifically affect their vision, it’s crucial to get an exam every single year, especially if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of eye disease. Getting older doesn’t mean having to deal with worsening vision.
The bottom line? Your health is essential, and putting off care will only make your symptoms more complicated. If you haven’t been to the doctor since the pandemic started two years ago, and now you