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Take control of your health with regular check-ups

Natalie Williams Breast Care Foundation

Submitted by AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia

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Regular check-ups can lead to a healthier life, especially if you have risk factors, like a family history of disease. The earlier you know about a problem, the sooner you can fix it. The same rule applies to your health. The earlier your doctor finds a health problem, the sooner it can be treated.

 

Need help finding a doctor?

List your priorities. Write down what is most important to you in a primary care provider (PCP) or doctor. Think about where the doctor’s office is located. Do you want a doctor that is close to your home, where you work or your child’s school? Ask your family, friends and neighbors which doctors they see. Find out what they like about their doctors.

When you find a doctor, call his or her office and ask questions. This will help you find out if the doctor meets your needs. Also, ask if he or she is accepting new patients. It’s important that you find the right doctor. You will work together to make sure you are living a healthy lifestyle.

AmeriHealth Caritas District of Columbia members can call Member Services or visit www.amerihealthcaritasdc.com to get more information on how to find a doctor.

 

Why get check-ups?

It’s important that you see your PCP at least once a year for a regular check-up. You may need more screenings, depending on your age and other factors. But even if you’re young and healthy, you need to see your PCP at least once every 12 months.

 

When you go for regular check-ups and screenings, you give yourself the opportunity to take charge of your health. Also, be sure to visit the same PCP every time. This will help you and your doctor form a relationship. It will make it easier for you to talk to him or her about your health concerns each visit.

 

How often do I need them?

That depends. Here are some of the main reasons that affect how often you need a check-up, and what kind of screenings you need:

 

  • Your age and sex
  • Personal health history
  • Family history
  • Lifestyle choices

 

For example, the American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so as long as they are in good health. Mammograms are X-rays of the breast. They are 1 of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer. The American Cancer Society also recommends that women in their 20s and 30s have a clinical breast exam as part of their regular check-up every 3 years. However, these recommendations do not apply to everyone in the same way. Your personal health, lifestyle choices, and family history will affect how often you should get screened. A woman with a family history of breast cancer will probably have more regular screenings than a woman with no family history, for example. That’s why it’s important for you to talk to your doctor about your personal health and lifestyle, and the medical background of your family members. Talk to your doctor at your next visit. Find out which screenings you need and how often you need them.

 

What other check-ups do I need?

 

In addition to medical (annual physical) check-ups, you also need to see your dentist and eye doctor. You should visit the dentist every 6 months and the eye doctor at least once a year.

 

Your body works together as a single unit. If you have a health condition like heart disease or diabetes, it can affect your eyes and your teeth. And dental and eye exams can uncover health conditions that you didn’t know you had. Everything is connected. That’s why it’s important to get check-ups from your eye doctor, dentist and PCP. Make sure to share your health history with each of them so they can work together.

Source: American Cancer Society

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