I Don’t Need an Annual Exam (and Why You Really Do)

August 14, 2019

By Lisa Nickchen, Editorial Contributor

Some of us are real sticklers when it comes to routine care and maintenance — for our cars, homes, even our lawns. But when it comes to our health, “there seems to be a disconnect,” says Dr. Ravi Tak, family medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates. Here are three common reasons people skip their annual visits with their primary care physician (PCP), and why they shouldn’t.

Myth #1. I feel fine; there’s nothing wrong with me.

With many conditions, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, you may not feel any significant symptoms early on. But these “silent” medical problems can lead to serious health consequences if not detected early, says Dr. Tak.

And routine cancer screenings, including breast, prostate and colon, can improve chances of detecting cancer early, when it’s most treatable.

Myth #2. I’m young; I don’t need annual exams yet.

Some risk factors, such as genetic predispositions, unhealthy lifestyle habits and obesity, can lead to serious health problems at any age. By reviewing your personal and family history, your PCP can identify current risk factors and help you manage those that could lead to future health problems.

Your PCP is your healthcare partner, and starting young with annual physical exams can help build a trusting relationship — with someone you know and who knows you.

Myth #3. I’m busy; I don’t have time to see my doctor.

Not finding the time for an annual preventive exam, or to monitor existing conditions, could lead to spending even more time, and money, for advanced treatment down the road.

It’s also usually easier to get an appointment as an established patient, says Dr. Tak. You don’t want to wait until you really need a doctor to have to find a doctor.