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The Importance of Wellness Visits

The Importance of Wellness Visits
Don’t miss out on your annual health tune-up

With the busy lives we lead—juggling deadlines, grocery shopping, your kid’s soccer game—it can be tempting to skip that routine wellness check with your physician. If you’re feeling good, you might think, why bother?

Here’s why wellness checks are important: Proactive medicine is the best medicine. “Attending regular or annual wellness visits is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your loved ones,” says Iyad Sabbagh, MD, chief physician executive at Valley Health. “It gives you and your provider a complete picture of your health and allows you to bring up any concerns you might have regarding your health.”

Think of a wellness visit as a chance to touch base with your provider. He or she might ask you questions about your lifestyle such as your diet, how much you exercise, and whether you’ve been under extra stress. And if anything worries you—constant heartburn, lower back pain, restless nights—you can chat about it. If you’re experiencing incontinence or you’ve developed bad breath, for example, don’t be shy about speaking up. Changes in your body could be due to overexertion or getting older, but they also could be signs of a more serious problem. Keep in mind that your provider has heard it all and is a partner in your journey to good health.

At a wellness visit, your provider will give you a general exam—take your blood pressure, check your lymph nodes, listen to your heart and lungs—to get a good picture of your overall health. You may be screened for cancer and other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, depending on your age and medical history. Your healthcare team may recommend certain vaccines to get you up to date. Some health problems sneak up without symptoms, so regular wellness visits help you and your provider uncover potentially life-threatening health issues early, when they’re easier to treat.

Wellness visits don’t take much time and are usually covered by health insurance. Your provider might recommend a visit every couple of years or, if you’re older or have a chronic health condition, annually. So schedule that appointment and mark your calendar. Besides checking for emerging health conditions, your provider can give you personalized advice. As Dr. Sabbagh says, “Staying on top of your health is the best way to be an advocate for yourself and to live a healthier life.”

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