You’re young, you’re healthy and you’re very very busy. Do you really need an annual wellness exam? Yes, you do.
If you’re satisfied with that answer, you’re likely already on top of your preventative health and you’ve probably seen your primary care physician at least once in the past year. But if your voice is raising a couple of octaves in protest, then read on because this post is for you…
WHY DO I NEED AN ANNUAL WELLNESS EXAM?
An annual wellness exam is a vital part of whole body healthcare. Whole body healthcare recognizes that you have spiritual, social, psychological AND physical needs, each of which are necessary for you to function at your optimal level.
Put simply, your lifestyle is the most important factor in determining your general overall health. Your annual wellness exam gives you the opportunity to discuss things like stress and anxiety, sleep, nutrition and fitness to get a big-picture view of what you’re doing right, and what you might need to pay attention to. In medical terms, this is called a “broad differential diagnosis”.
It’s like sending your car in for its regular service and tune-up: your mechanic checks oil and water levels, tyre pressure and wear, and the general condition of your car, then makes a plan on what to fix now and what to keep an eye on in order to keep it healthy, if you will.
Wellness isn’t the mere absence of disease. It’s a proactive, preventative approach designed to achieve the best possible physical, mental and emotional health.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT AN ANNUAL WELLNESS EXAM?
There are a few key parts of your annual wellness exam that really matter. Your primary care doctor will examine your biometrics–like height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and maybe a blood sugar test if you have risk factors or a family history, and any other specific labs you might need depending on your unique lifestyle factors.
These all help your physician understand what conditions you may be at risk for, and documenting them will help give you that broad differential diagnosis we mentioned earlier.
But the non-physical parts of your annual wellness exam are just as important. Most people will walk into their annual wellness exam ready to divulge everything about their diet and exercise, but few are prepared to talk about sex, drugs and rock n roll.
In some cases, having an open, honest conversation about these topics can do much more than an arbitrary test. What is ultimately more likely to impact your health are your sexual risk factors, your mental health status, substance use, sleep quality, and whether you’re experiencing any kind of abuse. All of these topics should be covered in your annual wellness exam and you should feel safe being completely candid.
Most importantly, whether you haven’t seen a doctor for years or you’re ready to build a long-term relationship with a primary care provider, make sure the care you’re getting is customized to fit your needs. Your actual health is much more important than checking boxes or outdated guidelines.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment, or before starting a new healthcare regimen and never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you've read on this website.
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