Like a lot of guys, comedian D.L. Hughley avoids checkups: "My wife knew I was horrified of doctors. [She] said, 'You haven't been to the doctor in four years, so I set up a physical for you. Since you're in your 40s, you're going to have a prostate exam. They call it a 'digital exam.' I thought it meant a camera!"
Whether you're like D.L. and avoid regular checkups or are one of the 45 million Americans who gets one every year, you're probably confused by the recommendations you've heard.
For instance, a 2012 study in “BMJ Open” found that annual physicals don't help people avoid death, hospitalizations, anxiety, or even future appointments.
But that doesn't mean they're a waste of time and money. Here's why:
1. Seeing your doctor annually when you are well may aid in future diagnosis and treatment. If you see your doc only when you are "not feeling like yourself," he or she has nothing to compare to your current condition.
2. As a patient who is well, you'll have an easier time learning how to best communicate with your doctor, so you get the attention you deserve. That's especially important if, like lots of folks on Affordable Care Act plans, you've recently chosen a new primary care physician.
3. You can bring in a list of your medications to check if their benefits still outweigh their risks.
4. You can get health-preserving exams such as a digital rectal exam, a blood pressure check, or diabetes screening.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
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