Depending on the area in which you live, you might be hesitant to visit a doctor unless absolutely necessary. While telemedicine has replaced some exams, it is not a substitute for in-person patient-physician visits. During a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever to do what you can to stay on top of your health and avoid a health emergency.
Here are 4 medical exams you should not reschedule and why:
Any woman over the age of 40 or who has a family history of breast cancer should undergo a mammogram annually. Mammograms can detect cancer in a patient up to three years before it can be felt, making it the most effective way to test for the disease. In a 20 minute-long exam, lumps or abnormal growths are identified through x-ray images of the breast tissue. Regular screening mammography is the only method proven to reduce deaths by detecting cancer early. Finding breast cancer early means more treatment options and a better chance at recovery than at a later stage. Studies have shown that breast cancer is typically more aggressive for women aged 40 to 50. This is why it’s vital to be tested regularly. The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years.Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older. Being a woman in itself is one of the biggest non-modifiable risk factors in addition to just growing older (risk increases from 0.44 % when below 30s to ~ 3.5% by age 60)
GYN exam/Pap smear
Regular gynecological exams are an essential part of a woman’s wellness. One of the most well-known reasons for a GYN visit is a Pap smear. A Pap test identifies precancerous and cancerous cervical cells. While cervical cancer screening recommendations have changed within the last few years, yearly gynecological visits are vital for women’s reproductive health and education. Through a pelvic exam, your practitioner can determine the health of your uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder, to identify any potential concerns such as HPV or other STIs. This is also the time to discuss the possibility of contraception or maintenance of birth control with your providers. Without adequate supervision, women can be at risk for unplanned pregnancies or menstrual complications. As women mature, their specific health needs change (fertility, hormonal changes, menopause, menstrual issues), which is why annual GYN visits should not be neglected during a pandemic.
No matter what age you are, annual physical exams are among the best ways to identify and treat health issues before they worsen. Many adults will consider themselves to be in “good health” and dismiss a yearly checkup. However, the CDC estimates that nearly one-third of the 133 million Americans living with a chronic disease are unaware of their condition. Chronic diseases cause 7 out of every 10 deaths in the US. Maintaining good health starts with preventative care and should be taken seriously. A physical exam is performed by your physician and typically measures your weight, height, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, sodium levels and other internal markers. Your blood pressure levels can be high without you ever showing any symptoms. Your doctor will also review your vaccination history, medications you are taking and may recommend immunizations. Now more than ever, your focus should be on your overall wellness and the preventive care you need to stay healthy.
Dental ExamsThere is a saying, “ignore your teeth and they’ll go away. Although you may be fearful of going to a dental office for a checkup where a hygienist comes into close proximity to your face, a responsible dental provider will take necessary precautions to keep you safe. During regular dental checkups, dental professionals clean and remove plaque. Skipping these appointments allows bacteria to flourish and attack your teeth and gums, and create decay that may require extensive restorations, such as a root canal or crown. Untreated tooth decay can lead to gum or periodontal disease. The gums are designed to provide a tight cover around your teeth and roots. Plaque bacteria can attack the gums, causing swelling and bleeding, allowing bacteria to settle underneath. If not treated properly, this condition, called gingivitis, can lead to periodontal disease.