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Ever leave your yearly physical feeling like you got absolutely nothing out of the exam? It makes you wonder: WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the point of an annual checkup anyway?
A group of Danish researchers wondered the same thing, leading them to the conclusion that there is little benefit to routine exams on healthy people.
Study authors analyzed information from 183,000 people who were randomly assigned to either receive a routine health checkÃ¢â‚¬”involving screening tests, a physical exam, or advice about lifestyle changesÃ¢â‚¬”or not receive one.
Results showed patients who received routine health checks were just as likely to die over a nine-year period compared with those who did not receive health checks.
But donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cancel your annual exam just yet. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more than just a trip to the doctor,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Robert Wergin, MD, a practicing family physician in Milford, Nebraska, and member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family PhysiciansÃ¢â‚¬”who is not affiliated with the study. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about establishing a relationship with someone who cares about, and can help you with, your health.Ã¢â‚¬Â You may not need to see a doctor when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re healthy, but when you come down with a nasty bug or mysterious ache, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be glad to have someone with a knowledge of your medical history to turn to. Your relationship with your primary care physician, if well established, can provide peace of mind when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not feeling your best. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re like an extension of your own family,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wergin adds. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re always there for you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Not to mention, your doctor recommends medications and lifestyle changes with the sole purpose of preventing you from getting sick in the first place. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why wait until the event, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a heart attack or diabetes, to do the intervention?Ã¢â‚¬Â Wergin asks.
At the end of the day, the amount of times you visit your primary care physician is a matter of personal need and choice, Wergin says. But when you do visit the doc, make the most of your appointment by following these guidelines.
Write down your questions ahead of time You need a grocery list to help you remember the bok choy for your stir-fry, why not make a reminder note to ask about your neck pain? Primary care physicians Ã¢â‚¬Å“cover your whole health,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wergin says, so no questions are off limits. From irregular moles to troublesome periods, primary care docs provide you with answers or point you in the right direction.
Discuss age-related milestones As you age, your health concerns change. Not sure what to ask your doctor? Here is what you should be concerned with in yourÃ¢â‚¬Â¦20s, 30s, and 40s.
Stay organized with a health journal When was your last pap smear? How long have you been on the pill? A health journal helps you keep track of this information and more, Ã¢â‚¬Å“keeping your health in the forefront of your mind,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wergin says. Here is what you should include in your journal:
*Dates of any medical tests *Illness or injury *Hospitalizations *Surgeries *Allergies *Medicines, vitamins or supplements that you are taking and how often you take them *Diseases or illness in your immediate family