What do a 6-month-old boy, 21-year-old woman, 40-year-old woman and 65-year-old man have in common?
If they want to maintain their best health, they should all see their doctor regularly for a wellness visit. And so should every age in between, younger and older. Wellness visits are an important component in maintaining good health, so stay on track with your regular checkups.
Measures taken there, from immunizations to cancer screenings, might save their life.
While many may have put off their routine visits, now is a perfect time to schedule them. Andrew Burgard, M.D., a family practice physician in West Fargo, North Dakota, shares some key points about wellness visits.
What is a wellness visit?
Obviously, a 6-month-old boy will have a different experience in a visit than a 40-year-old woman. “But primarily, the focus is going to be addressing the health maintenance and preventative tests or lab work that you may need based on those metrics,” Dr. Burgard said.
That might involve cancer screenings recommended for certain ages, or lab work to check cholesterol levels, or blood pressure or weight evaluations. “Then, on top of that, it will be reviewing what risk factors you may have and what things need to be treated or addressed more specific to each person,” he said.
Why is a wellness visit important?
The wellness visit offers the chance to detect conditions such as cancer or heart disease early. That could potentially save your life and also present simpler treatment options than a more advanced case would.
A key component of the wellness visit is establishing a relationship with a health care provider you trust, Dr. Burgard said. With a more complete picture of you, your background and your family history, the provider can offer care personalized to you, letting you craft a wellness plan together.
“Sometimes, the family history will be really a key component to what screening tests they’re due for,” Dr. Burgard said. “It may change the age at which we would recommend a certain screening test.”
What about vaccinations?
The well child visits for infants and children follow a recommended immunization schedule. Don’t worry if your child has fallen behind, though, Dr. Burgard said. “It may only take one visit to get you caught up,” he said.
The important thing: Get back on track. If the population of kids immunized for communicable diseases drops too much, it could put people unable to get immunized at risk if an outbreak occurs. “Their well-being and their health is dependent upon our entire community being vaccinated,” Dr. Burgard said.
Vaccinations aren’t just for children, though. All ages benefit from the annual flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine and booster. A shingles vaccine can help those 50 and older, and those 65 and older can get a pneumonia vaccination.
“You may qualify for some of those vaccines based on other health conditions, so again it comes back to that individualized care,” Dr. Burgard said.
Making an appointment
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