General check up doctor

Doctor’s Visits: Why Checkups Are Vital

When you were little, your parents probably made sure you had an annual checkup with your doctor. But as you’ve grown older, you may have gotten out of this habit.

Health professionals stress that these regular exams are important to help identify risk factors and problems before they become serious. If diseases are caught early, treatments are usually much more effective. Ultimately, having a regular doctor’s visit will help you live a long and healthy life.

Doctor’s Visit: The Prevention Checkup

Depending on your age, sex, and family medical history, a checkup with your doctor may include:

  • Blood, urine, vision, and hearing tests to evaluate your overall health
  • Assessments of your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and weight
  • A discussion about your diet and exercise habits and any tobacco, drug, and alcohol use
  • Immunizations and booster shots
  • Screenings to assess your risk of developing certain diseases, including diabetes (if you already have high blood pressure or high cholesterol) and cancer
  • Depending on your age and sexual lifestyle, testing for STDs and possibly HIV
  • Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a screening test for colorectal cancer
  • A discussion about depression and stress to evaluate your mental health

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Men

For men, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

  • Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a rectal exam to check for abnormal bumps in the prostate and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer
  • Between the ages of 65 and 75 if you have ever smoked cigarettes, an abdominal exam to check for an enlargement in your aorta; an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakness in the lining of the aorta (a large blood vessel in your chest and abdomen), can develop with age and become a life-threatening problem.

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Women

For women, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

  • A test for cervical cancer, called a Pap smear, every one to three years
  • A clinical breast exam to check for any unusual lumps or bumps in your breasts
  • Starting at age 40 (or younger if you have a strong family history for breast cancer), a breast cancer screening with a mammogram every one to two years
  • Starting at age 65, a referral for a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis, the disease that causes brittle, fragile bones and typically affects older women; women with more than one risk factor for osteoporosis may start earlier

Doctor’s Visit: Preparation

It’s important for you to play an active role to get the most out of your doctor’s visit. Before your exam, review and update your family health history, be prepared to ask if you’re due for any general screenings or vaccinations, and come up with a list of questions if you have particular health concerns.

During your actual doctor’s visit, don’t be shy about getting your questions answered. Also, if your doctor gives you advice about specific health issues, don’t hesitate to take notes. Time is often limited during these exams, but by coming prepared you’re sure to get the most out of your checkup.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Healthy Living Center.

Getting a Physical Examination

Your doctor might request screening tests. These can differ based on your biological sex.


  • Mammogram: In women with low or average risk for breast cancer, a mammogram is recommended every two years between the ages of 50 and 74. Earlier and more frequent testing may be recommended based on your personal history and family history of breast cancer.
  • Breast exam: A breast exam can be used to check for abnormal lumps or signs of breast cancer.
  • Pap smear: The pap smear is a screening for cervical cancer. Women should begin screening at age 21. After that, subsequent screenings are recommended every three years, as long as the woman has a healthy immune system. After 30 years old, pap smears are recommended once every five years, until the age of 65. After age 65, the majority of women no longer require a pap smear.
  • Pelvic exam: This can be done with or without a pap smear. A pelvic exam includes examining the vagina, cervix, and vulva for signs of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other conditions.
  • Cholesterol test: Most women should begin regular cholesterol checks at age 45. If you have a history of or genetic predisposition to diabetes or heart disease, you may need to begin cholesterol checks as early as age 20.
  • Osteoporosis screening: Bone density scans should begin around age 65. They may begin sooner in certain medical conditions.


  • Cholesterol test: Most men are advised to begin regular cholesterol checks at age 35. If you have a history of or genetic predisposition to diabetes or heart disease, you may need to begin cholesterol checks as early as age 20.
  • Prostate cancer screening: In general, using the prostate-specific antigen test and digital rectal exam for prostate cancer screening is not recommended, so talk to your doctor. Screening may be advised for some men starting at age 50. It may start as early as age 40 for those with a strong family history.
  • Testicular exam: Your doctor may wish to check each testicle for signs of a problem, including lumps, changes in size, and tenderness.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screening: This is a one-time screening test done with an ultrasound. It is recommended for all men ages 65-75 who have ever smoked.

Both men and women:

  • Colon (colorectal) cancer test: Tests for this cancer usually begin at age 50. It may be sooner based on personal health conditions and family history.
  • Lung cancer screening: An annual low-dose CT scan of the lungs is recommended for both men and women ages 55-80 who have smoked for a significant period of time or who are currently smoking. Talk to your doctor to see if your smoking history warrants a lung cancer screen.
  • Depression: Many people aren’t aware of possible symptoms of depression because they can be easily attributed to other things. However, a depression screening at each checkup can help your doctor to see if your symptoms are a result of depression.
  • Diabetes: If you have a family history or risk factors for diabetes — such as being overweight or having high blood pressure or high cholesterol — you should be screened for diabetes. Your doctor may use the fasting blood sugar test or the A1C test.
  • Hepatitis C: All individuals born between 1945 and 1965 are recommended to have a one-time blood test to screen for hepatitis C.
  • Vaccinations: All adults continue to need vaccinations throughout their lifetime. Talk to your doctor about which vaccinations are recommended based on your age.
  • STI screening: Based on your personal sexual history, regular STI screenings during each routine physical exam may be suggested. This can include HIV and syphilis testing.
  • HIV test: Your doctor may recommend taking a one-time HIV test for preventive purposes, or having it done more than once if you regularly have unprotected sex.
  • Syphilis test: You may need to take this test if you’re pregnant or at risk for syphilis.

Read more: STD testing: Who should be tested and what’s involved “

If your doctor believes that a specific part of your body requires closer examination, you may receive what’s known as a focused physical exam. In this type of exam, your doctor may only look at a certain part of your body to confirm their suspected diagnosis.

A patient’s check-up checklist

Suggest a check-up to such people and a large number would say they cannot afford to spend up to £350 for a private screening. Yet there is no need to go to such expense. Anyone can undergo a check-up with their GP, when appropriate. This might lead to a diagnosis and a prescription or referral for more tests. Alternatively, it might simply result in some dietary and fitness advice that could prevent a heart attack or the development of adult diabetes.

Some GPs complain that the “worried well” fill their surgeries, when there is a national shortage of family doctors and primary care nurses. “None the less, we have to grab the opportunity to carry out checks and give advice when people ask for it, if they are worried,” says Dr Graham Archard, the new vice-chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “The body is an extraordinarily good machine, if treated well.”

Here is a guide to some checks and services which patients are entitled to request from their GP.

General health check-up

Children under five are covered from an early age by regular assessments of growth and development.

All adults are entitled to a general health check-up with their GP if they have not seen their doctor for three years.

Such checks include questions about personal and family medical history, height and weight measurements, a blood pressure check, cholesterol and blood sugar tests, prostate and testicular examination – and a chest X-ray if you are a heavy smoker. The doctor may also look at your eyes, ears and throat and, if you are at risk, record your heart waves with an electrocardiogram.

There is, however, nothing to stop any one of any age asking for a specific check – if they are worried about, for example, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke or an underactive thyroid in their close family.

Everyone over 75 is entitled to a check-up if they have not seen their doctor for a year.

Bone density test

GPs do not automatically refer a patient who asks for a test to measure the density of bone in the spine or hip joint. However, women in their fifties – for example, someone whose mother began to break bones easily in her fifties and sixties -should ask for a referral and advice on diet.

Breast cancer

All women from the age of 50 are routinely invited every three years for free mammograms. At the end of this year, all women up to and including the age of 70 will be included. Women over 70 are entitled to a free screening, but have to remember to ask for an appointment.

Cervical smear

Women aged between 20 and 64 are invited for a cervical smear test every three to five years as part of the NHS screening programme. Some GPs – but by no means all – will offer a test to those who are under 20 and sexually active.

The programme is said to cut the risk of cervical cancer by 84 per cent.

Prostate cancer

There is no official screening programme. Men who are anxious may ask their GP for a blood test to check for raised levels of prostate- specific antigen. Government advice is that if men want to have this test, they should be given it.

Some GPs, however, counsel against it, saying the test is unreliable. Others say it is the only test on offer and cite cases of lives being saved when patients have insisted.

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer screening is to be introduced next summer, according to this week’s White Paper. The details are not yet known. It could be arranged through GP surgeries or even by mail.

Blood pressure

For every 10 who die of a stroke, four could have been saved if they had arranged regular checks. There is no hard and fast rule. Most GPs check middle-aged patients when they are in the surgery. Make sure it is recorded every few years, especially if there is a family risk of strokes.

Some doctors think that everyone should know their blood pressure from their late teens.

Cholesterol level

There is no official recommendation for cholesterol tests. On cost grounds, GPs could not provide them for everyone, but if you are at family risk of heart disease or diabetes, or already have raised blood pressure and are overweight or smoke, they would be unlikely to refuse. All these factors add up to a much higher risk of heart disease.

“Such people could also be marginally pre-diabetic, and dietary help at this stage can be very successful,” says Dr Archard.

Flu jab

These are carried out at GP surgeries and there is still stock available this winter. They are now offered to all patients over 65 and to those who are at risk of complications if they have flu because of such conditions as heart disease, bronchitis, and asthma.


GPs do not always check or discuss a patient’s weight regularly, though more are now doing so. Many employ a dietician to offer nutritional advice.

“We urge parents whose children and teenagers are overweight to come in,” says Dr Archard. “One study found that the degree of obesity was related to the quantity of sweetened carbonated drinks consumed. Such children are at high risk of developing adult diabetes.”

Fitness check

GPs may ask about fitness and activity, but they do not yet carry out fitness MoTs. Generally, they are sceptical about physical “trainers” funded by the health service as they see them as an expensive gimmick with little evidence of results. Your GP may advise you to go to a gym or take up swimming, and a few GPs have arrangements with local fitness centres.

  • For details of which checks are available at your GP surgery, ask the receptionist or look on the surgery’s website

General check-up / medical exam / medical consultation

The Fono’s GP’s can provide a general health check-up which includes things such as questions about your personal and family medical history, height and weight measurements and a blood pressure check.

The doctor may also look at your eyes, ears and throat, test your cholesterol level and blood sugar, and if you are at risk they may record your heart waves with an electrocardiogram. If you are a heavy smoker your doctor may also suggest a chest x-ray.

If you are worried about something specific such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or stroke in your close family, you can also ask your doctor.

A typical medical exam / consultation / check-up can include:

  • Height / weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Cholesterol level check
  • Blood sugar test
  • Throat check
  • Ear check
  • Eye check
  • Electrocardiogram (for those at a higher risk of heart disease)
  • Chest x-ray (for heavy smokers)

See our full fees list

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  • As part of our screening, we perform vision tests which require you to bring your glasses or contact lenses (if applicable).
  • If you do wear contact lenses, you will need to remove it at least 30 minutes prior to the test.


  • You will be required to drink at least 5-6 glasses of water before undergoing an ultrasound of the pelvis and abdomen. For ultrasound abdomen, 8 hours of fasting is required.
  • Avoid urinating around an hour before the examination


  • It takes about 20 – 30 minutes to complete the treadmill test.
  • Please avoid caffeinated drinks / food before the test.
  • Medication such as beta-blockers should be stopped 3 days before this test (please check with your doctor before performing this test).
  • Please bring along your sports attire and shoes for this test. We encourage you to bring a change of clothes due to perspiration during the test.


  • If you are bringing your stool sample from home, please collect 1 scoop of stool in the sterile stool specimen bottle, seal the bottle tightly and bring it along with you on the day of your screening.
  • Stool sample should not be kept for more than 12 hours before submission.
  • Note: For women, please ensure that you are not menstruating at the time of urine and stool collection.
  • Avoid red meat and iron supplements 3 days before stool sample is collected.
  • You may collect a stool specimen bottle from one of our screening centres or GP clinics prior to your screening appointment.


  • Please avoid this examination if you are pregnant.
  • Please arrange for your appointment to be at least 1 week after the last day of your menstruation.
  • Refrain from wearing any deodorant, perfume, powder or cream at your underarms or chest area as it may affect the quality of the mammogram.
  • It is advisable that you bring your most recent mammogram films or reports (if available). This is to allow for better comparison between the previous and latest mammogram result.
  • Kindly submit your most recent mammogram films to our radiology department within 3 working days from the day of your screening if you have forgotten to bring it on the day of examination.

Health Screening

Health Screening Packages

All of us reckon the fact that we spend almost 80% of our time in life working hard for wealth for our loved ones. But have all of us ever come to the thought that our health is our wealth too?

Getting a body check up in Singapore is valuable to everyone because it is the first step to safeguard our health. A simple health screening package in Singapore can easily help you to earlier identify a large number of diseases and conditions which have the tendency to remain silent. Many conditions such as diabetes and high blood cholesterol often have no early signs or symptoms. With early identification of such diseases and conditions, you will be able to treat and prevent them from taking over our lives from our precious loved ones.

Why Choose To Come To Us?

Mediway Medical provides a one-stop hassle free health screening in Singapore for all our valuable clients and is conveniently located in the heart of Singapore at our Mediway Medical & X-Ray Centre.

Our Medical Centre offers a diverse range of Health Screening Packages catered for individuals, families as well as employees of corporate organisations with the aim to help valuable lives get a better understanding and manage their health at affordable and reasonable full body checkup Singapore price. At Mediway Medical, we have tailored the full body checkup based on your age, medical history, risk factors & family history.

You will feel comfortable throughout your visit. Every member of our medical team is a highly trained professional and have met the standards of delivering quality care which will give you the assurance that you’re in good hands at all times.

Within 1-5 working days of your appointment at our medical centre, you will receive a detailed medical report of your full body checkup in Singapore in an e-mail or in person. We will strongly encourage you to review the test results in a private consultation with our caring doctor who will let you know your current health condition well and help you determine the best next step for you. If we find a condition that requires urgent attention, we will notify you immediately.

Your medical concerns are the key slogan of our company which is “Where Your Health Matters” to us.

Getting check-ups is one of many things you can do to help stay healthy and prevent disease and disability.
You’ve made the appointment to see your health care provider. You’ve reviewed the instructions on how to prepare for certain tests. You’ve done the usual paperwork.
Done, right?
Not quite.
Before your next check-up, make sure you do these four things.

Review your family health history.
Are there any new conditions or diseases that have occurred in your close relatives since your last visit? If so, let your health care provider know. Family history might influence your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Your provider will assess your risk of disease based on your family history and other factors. Your provider may also recommend things you can do to help prevent disease, such as exercising more, changing your diet, or using screening tests to help detect disease early.

Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations.
Have you had the recommended screening tests based on your age, general health, family history, and lifestyle? Check with your health care provider to see if its time for any vaccinations, follow-up exams, or tests. For example, it might be time for you to get a Pap test, mammogram, prostate cancer screening, colon cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease screening, blood pressure check, tetanus shot, eye check, or other screening.

Write down a list of issues and questions to take with you.
Review any existing health problems and note any changes.
• Have you noticed any body changes, including lumps or skin changes?
• Are you having pain, dizziness, fatigue, problems with urine or stool, or menstrual cycle changes?
• Have your eating habits changed?
• Are you experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, distress, or sleeping problems?
If so, note when the change began, how it’s different from before, and any other observation that you think might be helpful.

Be honest with your provider.
If you haven’t been taking your medication as directed, exercising as much, or anything else, say so. You may be at risk for certain diseases and conditions because of how you live, work, and play. Your provider develops a plan based partly on what you say you do. Help ensure that you get the best guidance by providing the most up-to-date and accurate information about you.
Be sure to write your questions down beforehand. Once you’re in the office or exam room, it can be hard to remember everything you want to know. Leave time between questions to write down your provider’s answers.

How often should a person have a medical check-up? The key to keeping your “engine” running smoothly is routine maintenance.
Here is an annual health check-up and preventative maintenance checklist for men and women of every age. Regular check-ups and health screenings will help pave the way to early detection and treatment of health conditions before they become serious and more difficult to manage. They also provide peace of mind, contribute to improved quality of life, and can help you plan for your long-term health.
In addition to your annual check-up, here are five key things that you can and should do to prevent disease and improve your overall health and well-being:
1. Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Be physically active (at least 30 minutes each day).
3. Don’t smoke and avoid being in places where others are smoking.
4. Limit alcohol intake.
5. Spend some quality time with your family and friends.

Blood Sugar (Glucose) – Blood tests can show high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. High glucose levels can lead to serious health consequences. There are a number of medical conditions that can be diagnosed when glucose levels are elevated: e.g. Gestational Diabetes, Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Type 1 Diabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, nerve damage, and problems with erection (impotence). Don’t put off being tested. The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner you can take action to stay well – now and in the future!
If you are aged 40 or over, you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes and should be tested at least every three years. If you have any of the following additional risk factors, you should be tested earlier and/or more often:

Cholesterol Screening – Unhealthy cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for circulation problems, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that if you have unhealthy cholesterol levels, you can make some fairly simple lifestyle changes that can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk. In some cases your physician may determine that in addition to lifestyle changes, medication is required.
Your family history for elevated cholesterol, and whether or not you have other coronary heart disease risk factors will determine the need for cholesterol testing. Together, you and your doctor will make the decision.

Tips for a more accurate cholesterol test

If you want an accurate cholesterol test, don’t eat or drink anything (except water) for at least eight hours before your screening.

Blood Pressure – The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Those with elevated blood pressure need to be under medical care. If you are over the age of 20 should have their blood pressure checked regularly, at least once every two years, and more often if recommended by their family doctor.

Eye Tests – It is common for people to think that if their vision is good, then their eyes must be healthy. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Some serious eye diseases have no symptoms. Early screening gives us the best chance of keeping our eyes healthy.
After initial examination, your optometrist will schedule regular checkups for you at a frequency that meets your particular eye care needs..

Colorectal Screening – Screening is the most efficient way to detect polyps and colon cancer in the earliest stage. Colorectal cancer usually has no symptoms in its early stages, when the disease is most treatable, which is why regular screening is important. Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, change in bowel habits (alternating diarrhea and constipation) for no reason, feeling of abdominal bloating, fullness, and/or cramps.
Average risk men and women over the age of 50 should have a fecal occult blood test at least every two years.

How to get a poop sample
Some centers now have a very easy dip & swipe test stick which you can do at your own leisure, however if you are asked to present a full sample I usually suggest that you poop into a large container (such as an ice cream tub that has been cleaned thoroughly and rinsed with boiling water) then use a plastic spoon to put a smaller portion into the tiny pot that the lab has given you…Good Luck!

Thyroid Disease Screening – One in 20 people are estimated to have a thyroid disorder. Talk to your health professional as to how often you should be screened for thyroid dysfunction.

Next edition Specific Womens and Mens Health Checks & other health considerations

Kim Patra is a qualified registered nurse and midwife who has been living and working in Bali for almost 20 years. She now runs her own private practice and medical referral service from her Kuta office. Kim is happy to discuss any health concerns with you and she may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected] or Office number : 0361-2775666.

Copyright © 2012 Kim Patra
You can read all past articles of Paradise…in Sickness & in Health at

Eligible S’porean Males Must Register For National Service By 11 June

If you’re a January, February or March baby born in 2002, Singapore will officially be drafting you for National Service.


Only if you’re male, for now.

Eligible Singaporean guys who are citizens or Permanent Residents (PR) and have turned 18 years old will be drafted to serve the nation.

You will have about 3 weeks to register online here, anytime from 22 May to 11 June.

Remember to block out your medical exam date

All registrants also have to book a date in late July to late August with a certified army doctor for a medical examination.

Do remember not to double book yourself and keep that date free. The designated time slots and location of the check-up are as follows:

You’ll be able to opt for your preferred date online, after you register as an eligible NS recruit.

Medical screening schedule

If you’re a first-timer – of course you are – here’s what to expect at your medical screening.

  1. Your photo will be taken at the Photo Studio
  2. E-fitting process for uniform, boots, apparel & other NS equips
  3. Free medical screening with 6 stations:
    • Clinical lab work
    • Eye exam
    • Dental exam
    • X-ray exam
    • Ear, nose & throat exam
    • Full clinical exam
  4. Psychometric test

You may download the medical screening checklist here, for safekeeping.

Dress appropriately

You must be attired in a T-shirt paired with shorts or pants.

Candidates must also be clean shaven and sport a neat & short haircut for the photo-taking session.

No need to cut botak yet, just make sure your hair is neat

No contact lenses are allowed, so do wear your glasses if you are myopic. Strictly no jewellery and coloured, long or messy hair will be tolerated.

Bring these important documents

Do note that you need to bring these extremely important documents for your medical screening as well:

  • Medical Documents (If applicable):
    • Medical reports
    • Hospital appointment cards
    • X-ray films
    • Blood donation card
    • School Health booklet
  • Proof of identity (Any 2 cards)
    • NRIC, Student EZ-Link, Passport, Driving License
  • Medical screening questionnaire endorsed by parent/guardian
  • Education certificates & transcripts (For private & overseas courses only)

CMPB warns that failure to adhere to these instructions would require you to return on “multiple occasions” to complete “medical screening”.

Going unprepared or without the right documents will also result in delays in your registration.

Applications to postpone NS can be done online or “in person”

Those with valid reasons who wish to apply to postpone their service can opt for it online or “in person”.

You will receive more information about the new enlistment date and medical exam if you are successful in your application.

Ah boys to men

To all our boys, MS News wishes you a smooth registration and Singapore thanks you for serving our nation.

Do stay safe, and don’t forget to bring everything that’s required so you’ll only have to go through this process once.

For the kiasu recruits, you can even start mugging those catchy army song lyrics now.

12 Singaporean Army Songs That Will Make Any NSMan Echo Out Loud

Featured image from Officer Cadet School, Singapore on Facebook.

Like many people, you may schedule a yearly checkup or “annual physical” with your doctor. It usually includes a health history, physical exam and tests.

It is important to have a regular doctor who helps make sure you receive the medical care that is best for your individual needs. But healthy people often don’t need annual physicals, and they can even do more harm than good. Here’s why:

Annual physicals usually don’t make you healthier.

Your doctor may order tests, such as blood and urine tests, or an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Sometimes, these tests are ordered for healthy people who have no risk factors.

There have been many studies of the effects of these annual checkups. In general, they probably won’t help you stay well and live longer. And usually they don’t help you avoid hospital stays or keep you from dying of cancer or heart disease.

Tests and screenings can cause problems.

Most people should only have a test or screening if they have symptoms or risks factors. One problem is getting a false-positive result. These false alarms can cause anxiety, and unnecessary follow-up tests and treatments. For example, a false-positive blood test can result in a biopsy. An EKG that is not interpreted correctly may lead to another test that exposes you to radiation. Or you might get a procedure that has a risk of heart attack or death in two patients for every 100 who get the test.

Avoid unnecessary costs.

The U.S. health care system spends $300 million a year on unnecessary tests that are ordered in annual physicals. Billions more are spent on follow-up tests and treatments.

Set a schedule with your doctor.

When you have an exam, your doctor:

  • May find conditions that need treatment.
  • May find you have risk factors for a disease.
  • Will advise you when to get follow-up and preventive care.

Usually your doctor can provide several kinds of care in one visit. For example, you may get a flu shot when your doctor sees you to check how your new blood pressure medicine is working.

If your doctor wants to schedule an annual physical, you can ask if it is necessary. Or ask if you can wait until you have a problem or are due for a test (such as a Pap smear or blood pressure test).

So when do adults need a checkup?

You may need a checkup:

  • When you are sick.
  • When you have a symptom that could mean illness.
  • To manage chronic or ongoing conditions.
  • To check on the effects of a new medicine.
  • To help with risk factors like smoking or obesity.
  • For prenatal care, if you are pregnant.
  • For lifestyle issues like family planning, STD prevention and healthy eating, especially if you are a young adult.
  • For other reasons that are based on your individual needs.

It is also important to see a doctor if you haven’t had health care in a long time. It is best to have a trusted doctor you see regularly.

What about preventive care?

Preventive care is important. Having a regular doctor helps you get preventive care.

This report is for you to use when talking with your health-care provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.

© 2017 Consumer Reports. Developed in cooperation with the Society of General Internal Medicine.

How Much Time Does A Doctor Visit Really Take?

I always think a doctor visit will be a quick, in-and-out trip: “If I make an appointment for 8:00 a.m., I could make it to my 9:00 meeting.” But the alarm goes off, I fly out the door, sign in early, and still––I face a 40-minute wait, paperwork, a few minutes with the doctor, checking out, a visit to the pharmacy, and the drive back to work.

It’s never as quick as I anticipate.

So that makes me think: How much time does a doctor visit really take? We sometimes have it in our heads that we can be at work and see a physician and pick up the kids on time in the same day. In reality, that almost never shakes out to be true.

Even though we work in healthcare and human resources, we sometimes get sick and need to see doctors, too. As an employer, you should want to help prevent these long visits to the doctor’s office. And as an employee, you know first-hand how lengthy these trips can be. Seeking medical care is almost never an easy task.

A Primary Care Office Visit

Depending on traffic, you might leave your office at 11:30 for a noon appointment to confirm your suspicion of a sinus infection. You sign in at the front desk, and have 10 minutes of new paperwork to fill out before your name is called. The doctor is running behind helping patients, so you don’t actually get into an exam room until 12:40. A nurse checks your vitals and talks about your current health for 10 minutes. You wait another 5 minutes for the doctor to come in, who then performs an exam and prescribes a medication, taking about 5 minutes. It takes another 15 minutes to check out and get back to your car. It’s now about 1:15 p.m.

But the wait isn’t over there: You drive 10 minutes to the pharmacy, wait 15 minutes for your prescription to be filled, and head back to work. It’s now after 2:00 p.m., and you’ve lost your lunch time and a couple hours of productive time.

The end result = 1 antibiotic and more than 2 hours of lost P.T.O.

An Urgent Care Visit

Much like a visit to your primary care physician, a trip to urgent care will take about three hours. But depending on the severity of your illness or injury and the number of patients crammed into the waiting room, you might have an extra hour to waste reading magazines from the ‘90s. A standard urgent care illness, like a urinary tract infection or vomiting, usually requires a little more time with the doctor or nurse.

You still get the care you need, but you’ve spent a whole free night at the urgent care and had to pay a heftier co-pay.

The end result = 1 antibiotic, 4 hours of lost free or family time.

An Emergency Room Visit

If you’ve ever walked into a crowded E.R., you know the feeling of dread when you realize you have absolutely no control over how long it may take to see a doctor. But if you’re worried enough about an injury or illness, you’re probably willing to endure it to get the medical attention you need.

Higher-severity cases might bump your minor injury down the list, and emergencies aren’t scheduled. After you’ve endured the wait time and exam, you’ll need to wait until the next day to see the doctor you’ve been referred to or visit a regular-hours pharmacy.

You’ve lost personal time and paid a costly E.R. co-pay of up to $1,000.

The end result = 1 antibiotic for your feverish newborn, 5 hours of lost sleep.

Whether it’s an emergency situation or a routine trip to your primary care physician for a simple sinus infection, a doctor visit takes much more time than we anticipate. It’s never as quick or affordable as we hope.

As an alternative, Telemedicine provides fast solutions to a daunting necessity. You can’t just skip unavoidable medical care, but you can skip the driving, wait time, co-pay, and time off work. Telemedicine is the way to seek medical attention without breaking the bank or wasting time.

You may need to call around to previous doctors’ offices for your records or ask family members for this information. On that note, keep in mind that your medical history also encompasses that of your family, given the genetic component to so many health issues. It’s important to tell your doctor if certain conditions run in your family, like high blood pressure, diabetes, alcoholism, any cancers, or chronic illnesses, Dr. Tully says, especially if your family members have an early onset form of a disease.

3. Tell your doctor about every medication or drug you take, supplements included.

You probably already know you should tell your doctor about what prescription drugs you’re on. (Keep a list handy with the names and dosages, or just bring the bottles themselves.) Don’t leave out your birth control, which Dr. Tully says people often forget.

You should also list any over-the-counter (OTC) meds you use, like the Benadryl you turn to when you can’t sleep or the ibuprofen you use to tackle period cramps every month, Dr. Tully says.

Heads up: This rule extends to supplements, too. You might not think of things like herbs, vitamins, and minerals as medications, especially when they’re branded with (often pretty meaningless) buzzwords like “natural,” but they could potentially interact with something your doctor prescribes. For example, St. John’s wort can accelerate the breakdown of certain drugs, like antidepressants and birth control pills, making them less effective, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There’s a dull ache on your left side that’s been there since last Tuesday. Actually, it’s probably gotten worse since then, despite the hot pads and over-the-counter pain meds. Still, you’d rather wax your entire body than schedule an appointment with a doctor to determine the cause. Now that you think about it, you’re probably overdue for a checkup, too. “Has it been three years or four since my last health exam?” you think to yourself. Anxious “what ifs” about your health start flooding your mind, and you begin typing symptoms into Google for an inevitably tragic self-diagnosis.

If you’ve experienced something similar, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a pretty common experience to feel reticent about going to the doctor, said Dr. Barbara Cox, a psychologist based in San Diego. She explained that while this fear has many triggers — including having iatrophobia, the medical name for fear of doctors that affects just 3 percent of the population — the primary culprit is anxiety triggered by a fear of getting bad news.

Only 3 percent of the population has a fear of doctors — the majority of anxiety is actually triggered by the fear of the unknown.

“Many people feel anxious because they fear the unknown, and they let their imagination run wild,” she says. “They may imagine a worst-case scenario, when in fact going for, say, an annual check-up is the best prevention.”

Dr. Marc Romano, a psychologist, nurse practitioner and assistant medical director at Delphi Behavioral Health, agreed.

“The main fear individuals have about going to the doctor is that the doctor will find something seriously wrong,” he says. “Individuals typically only go to their doctor when they are sick. Therefore, the anxiety people have when they go to the doctor becomes a conditioned response. The association between anxiety and doctors is one that becomes stronger and stronger each time a person has to go to the doctor.”

Breaking the Doctor-Anxiety Cycle

If your anxiety is centered upon a fear of the unknown and an imagination that takes you to the worst-case diagnosis, it’s that much more important to actually schedule an appointment.

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“First and foremost, you must rule out that something is seriously wrong,” explains Dr. Romano. It’s not easy, but even if you don’t receive a peachy diagnosis, that doesn’t change the facts. It simply means you have a name for what ails you, and you can begin treating and reducing pain and discomfort.

“Doctors are like trainers; their job is to keep you as healthy and fit as possible to avoid health problems from arising.”

“Second, it’s important to go to the doctor to reduce one’s anxiety, since living with high anxiety can actually result in something seriously going wrong, such as high blood pressure,” he says. Yes, avoiding the doctor and stressing yourself out about the “what ifs” can actually make you sick.

RELATED: What a Registered Dietitian Wants You to Know About Losing Weight

Regarding a routine checkup, seeing your doctor once a year (or whatever frequency is prescribed), means you’ll have a firmer handle on your health. These preventative exams are vital to your wellbeing since they help you avoid illness, and since they can help you lessen the severity of any pre-existing conditions, notes Dr. Cox.

Making the Visit Easier

Ready to schedule that doctor’s visit? Follow these expert tips to reduce your anxiety.

  • Acknowledge the anxiety, then let it go: “If you find yourself thinking about your doctor’s visit, acknowledge that and tell yourself it’s normal to have anxiety, then focus your thoughts on something else less anxiety provoking,” advises Romano. He says that letting go of thoughts that trigger anxiety can be done by distracting yourself with things that bring you joy and keep you mentally engaged. Maybe that’s indulging in your favorite TV show, tackling that house project, hitting the gym or diving into a good book.
  • Don’t be Dr. Google: Googling your medical symptoms is a downward, anxiety-fueling spiral, and it’s nearly impossible to get off the ride once you’ve begun. Not only are the most extreme cases documented more frequently than benign cases, you’re also dealing with confirmation bias.“With modern technology, it is inevitable that individuals will look up their symptoms, but it is important that individuals do not jump to conclusions and do not play doctor,” says Romano. “Individuals often tend to think the worst, and it is important to keep your thoughts in check and identify those thoughts are irrational and replace them with more rational ones. Suspend any judgements or conclusions about health issues until there is objective data to either confirm or deny the presence of health problems.”
  • Do something relaxing before your visit: Cox encourages patients to do something relaxing just before their visit. For example, listening to soothing music while driving to the appointment, or completing a guided meditation in the parking lot. Even deep, steady breaths can slow your heart rate and help you feel more grounded and in control.
  • Calm and distract yourself in the waiting room: “There are many things that people can do while sitting in their doctor’s waiting room to distract their thoughts from those that may be related to the doctor’s visit and causing anxiety to ones that are more pleasant and that induce a feeling of calmness,” says Romano. “With modern devices, individuals can easily distract themselves from worrying thoughts by looking at their emails, going on social media sites, watching movies, scrolling through their pictures on their phones or listening to music.” Cox adds, “Some people who are especially anxious may bring a friend with them to keep them upbeat.”
  • Remind yourself that your doctor is on your side: “It is important to view your doctor as an ally in keeping you healthy by identifying problems before they get out of control,” says Romano. “Doctors are like trainers; their job is to keep you as healthy and fit as possible to avoid health problems from arising.” Communicate honestly with your doctor, who isn’t there to judge. Be straightforward about your medical symptoms and fears, and even mention that you feel anxiety about going to the doctor’s office in the first place. Your doctor will be guiding and reassuring throughout the process, and you will feel much more in control of your own health once you walk out the door — helping to ease the anxiety around your next appointment.

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10 Reasons You Should Go to the Doctor (Even When You’re Healthy)

As a late 20-something female with a demanding work schedule who still wants to have time for social pursuits, I get it: The last thing you want to do in the middle of your crazy life is take a day off and go to the doctor’s office.

However, as an Internal Medicine resident who’s seen too many people wait until they’re already sick and need to be hospitalized to get medical care, I think it’s time for every woman to book an appointment with a doctor today. (And at least every year after that!) Here’s why:

1. To Establish a Good Relationship With Your Physician

If you never see a doctor, you can’t ever have a relationship with one. On the other hand, having a regular physician means having someone who knows the intricacies of your medical history and who will work with you to shape your healthy present and future. Many people I know have had a bad experience with hospitals or doctors and now avoid institutions of health at all costs—including their own health. But while not every doctor is going to be the right one for you, you owe it to yourself to keep looking until you find a practitioner that you like and trust.

2. To Establish Your Health Risk

Does your family have a history of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, or another significant disease? If so, you may be at risk for these conditions, too—and there are likely things you can do to lower that risk. A doctor can help you find out and work with you to determine which screening tests you need.

3. To Keep Your Body in Check

Do you ever wonder how you went from wearing a size 6 to a size 10 in what seems like the blink of an eye, but what was really over the course of months or years? Many of my new patients who haven’t seen a doctor in years are shocked when they step on the scale and learn that they have gained 20-plus pounds since they were last weighed. And even if you still fit into your skinny jeans, there are other health markers, like heart rate and blood pressure, that should be trended over time. By monitoring basic vital signs, a routine doctor’s visit can be like a system of checks and balances for your body.

4. To Keep Your Mind in Check

Did you know that being a female is an independent risk factor for depression—and that women are more than twice as likely than men to struggle with depression over the course of their lifetime? What’s more, we aren’t always great at noticing the symptoms ourselves. But a having a routine mental health screening by your physician can help identify warning signs—before they go from bad to worse.

5. To Get a Good Night’s Sleep

According to the NIH, 30-40% of Americans report having occasional symptoms of insomnia and 10-15% report chronic difficulty sleeping—with women representing the majority of those affected. While you may think that a poor night’s sleep just means you’ll need an extra cup of coffee in the morning, chronic sleep disorders can actually increase the long-term risk of hypertension, depression, and diabetes. A doctor’s visit can help identify possible underlying causes for your restless nights—and get you the help you need to actually get some zzzs.

6. To Make Sure Your Cervix is Healthy

While I’ll be the first to admit that a trip to the gynecologist’s office isn’t my favorite way to spend an afternoon, annual pelvic exams are a critical part of any woman’s preventative health care. They can help detect vaginal infections, including sexually transmitted diseases (which may not present with any symptoms), and may often include a PAP smear for cervical cancer screening. Although you may have heard about some recent changes to screening recommendations, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force still wants women between the ages of 21 to 65 to get a Papanicolaou test (a.k.a. PAP smear) at least every three years (or more frequently if you’ve ever had abnormal results).

7. Because You May Want a Baby (Eventually)

Even if you aren’t planning a pregnancy in your immediate future, you shouldn’t ignore your fertility and reproductive health. While there are many factors that contribute to fertility—from age to bad habits, such as excessive alcohol and tobacco use—there is one you may not be thinking about: your waistline. It has long been recognized that women with an abnormal body mass index (a.k.a. BMI) have higher rates of infertility. A recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed that the eggs of women with an unhealthy BMI (below 20 or above 30) are linked to abnormalities that make them impossible to fertilize, leading to a difficult time getting and staying pregnant. Achieving your ideal BMI takes time, so it’s important to start this conversation with your doctor months—or even years—before you start thinking about pregnancy.

8. To Get Peace of Mind

When we have health questions and concerns, it’s easy to turn to good ol’ WebMD for answers. And even though the Internet can be a wonderful health resource, reading about your health issues online can often lead to unnecessary worry and fear. Remember, you (and every other patient) are unique and deserve a personalized evaluation. So instead of surfing the web for a generic, or even worse, incorrect answer, talk to a doctor in person to get the full picture—and to stop losing sleep over your questions (see reason number 5!).

9. For Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

Does it seem like I am repeating myself? Good! Health protection and prevention is the key to staying healthy for the long haul. From simple blood tests and vaccines now to mammograms and colonoscopies later, your doctor can help you become the healthiest version of you. Although it may seem like a hassle now, one hour in a doctor’s office now can add years of health to your life.

10. To Establish a Good Relationship With Your Physician

I think this one is so important that it bears repeating! I truly believe that a good patient-physician relationship is one of the most unique human experiences we can have—and it is undeniably integral to our health. So, what are you waiting for? Find a doctor you like, and stick with her (or him).

Photo of woman and doctor courtesy of .

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