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8 Medical Appointments You Should Never Put Off

According to an article recently published in USA Today, roughly half of American adults (between the ages of 18 and 50) don’t have a family physician. On top of that shocking statistic, about one third of Americans adults admit they haven’t seen a doctor for a check-up in over a year!

If you lack health benefits or insurance its no wonder you skip yearly screenings with GPs, dentists, optometrists, and others. However, making time for the following health professionals can be the proactive difference between a minor health issue and a major condition or life-threatening disease…

1. Gynecologist

Even if you have general practitioner ladies, you should still see a gynecologist annually if you are over the age of 18 and sexually active. If you need a referral for a gynecologist for female related stuff—reproductive issues, STDs, pregnancy—ask your GP for a referral. Pelvic exams and pap tests should be performed annually for women 18 to 29-years-old. While those 30 to 64-years should have them every other year (or more frequently upon doctor referral).


2. Proctologist

Has Movemember (November is prostate cancer awareness month) taught us nothing? All men over the age of 50-years old should see a proctologist for a prostate cancer screening every 10 years. However, that’s only if your risk of colon-related conditions is low. If your risk factor is high, your doctor may want more frequent screenings, including should yearly appointments for fecal occult blood tests and appointments every 5-years for double-contrast barium enemas (colon x-rays).


3. Dermatologist

If you have a skin tag or wish you have an exfoliating wrinkle treatment than you can make an appointment with your dermatologist at your leisure. However, an appointment for a questionable mole shouldn’t be put off.  Even though most typical moles will never turn into skin cancer, individuals with more than 50 common-type moles carry a higher risk of developing melanoma (a type of skin cancer), according to the National Cancer Institute. If a mole changes—in shape, size, color, texture, height, or becomes uneven, scaly, lumpy, itchy, or bloody/oozy—you should book an appointment with a dermatologist immediately or get a referral from your family physician.


4. Dentist

If you’re lucky enough to have good medical benefits at work (including dental) a cleaning and check up every six months may be in the financial cards. However, if you don’t you may be apt to put off yearly cleanings and x-rays. The Canadian Dental Association cautions smokers, those with poor diets, and pregnant women to refrain from skipping yearly check ups.  Especially expectant moms, of which 22-percent are prone to periodontal gum disease. Studies from the Birmingham School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama, found that yearly dental cleanings and screenings for the disease can prevent premature deliveries, as well as increased risk of cerebral palsy, and visual problems in newborns.


5. Optometrist

Another medical appointment that’s often put off due to lack of benefits coverage through an employer, the optometrist should be on your radar every 2 to 3 years, more often if it’s booked for a child (annually). Adults over 40 should have their vision checked every second year if they wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you notice sudden vision changes, optometrists can virtually detect problems with your hearts, arteries, brain, and nerves via the eyes. Don’t put off an optometrist appointment if your vision changes for no reason—the eyes are often the windows to your health.


6. Family Doctor

I know that your family physician is the last person you want to see if you’re sick or suffering from an embarrassing health issue (i.e., a rash or sexual dysfunction). However, your GP should be the first appointment you make if your health is in question—as far as sinus congestion, fever, joint or muscle pain, odd lump or mass, sleep difficulties, changes in diet or weight, sexual issues, and so much more. And even if you feel fine, those annual comprehensive medical check-ups, screenings, and routines tests are meant to preventatively support your health and well being, and if you’re in good health, your doctor may even be alright with seeing you less often.


7. Mammography Technologist

While mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer—they can save lives by finding breast cancer in its early stages. According to supportive research from the American Medical Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the National Cancer Institute, mammograms reduce the risk of breast cancer fatalities in women over 50-years of age by 35-percent and oftentimes catch and localize cancer tumors early enough to prevent mastectomy (or breast removal). Mammograms are recommended yearly for women, starting at age 40, or earlier if you are considered high risk.


8. OB-GYN

Many family doctors in North America provide prenatal care to expecting moms up until the third trimester. After that a midwife (for low risk pregnancies) and/or an OB-GYN should take over your care for the final weeks of pregnancy, delivery, and even provide advice post-partum. Your pregnancy checkups will become more frequent during your third trimester (ever other week until 36 weeks and every week after 36-weeks until delivery) for measurements of baby’s growth rate, your weight, blood pressure and heart rate, biophysical profile (stress test), ultrasounds, body examinations (i.e., for things like preeclampsia), urine and vaginal tests and swabs (i.e., for B strep bacteria), and to provide an answers or advice you may have along the way.

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