It’s a troubling reality that in America millions of people don’t schedule regular preventative care appointments. Often this is a result of not having access to adequate health insurance, but even for those who do have health insurance, preventative care often gets put off. There are countless reasons, such as the prohibitive costs of healthcare in the United States, habits formed from living without health insurance, and general busyness and forgetfulness — after all, if you’re feeling fine, why do things need to get checked out?
Truth is, getting regular checkups on your health is the best way to keep you healthy and make sure your long-term health costs stay lower. By scheduling regular preventative care appointments and screenings, you are able to catch things early and work with your doctor to keep track of your health and prevent the onset of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and more.
But internal health is not the only health you need to be worrying about. While getting a yearly physical is incredibly important, there are a few other appointments you definitely need to be scheduling every year.
Going to the dentist seems to be a universally loathed experience. You never hear anyone excitingly exclaiming “I’m going to the dentist today!” But getting regular checkups and cleanings is vitally important to your overall health.
Oral health is intricately linked to your body health in ways that not many people think about. Tooth decay and infections have been linked to heart problems, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis can cause problems with your teeth. Also, missing or misaligned teeth can affect a number of things, such as how well you chew things — which in turn affects your digestion — as well as affecting the integrity of the structure of your jaw. Missing teeth left unaddressed for a long time can actually cause your jaw to degrade, causing structure problems as you age.
If any of that information terrified you, then good! You now have something to motivate you get over your fear of the dentist and get the preventative and restorative care that you need. If your teeth are currently in good condition, regular checkups and cleaning will help ensure they stay that way. If you have some dental problems or trauma, don’t wait any longer to address them. Getting the restorative dental work you need now will improve your health — and your life — for years to come.
Yearly eye exams are another preventative health appointment that many people put off. People who don’t currently have corrective vision needs are often the ones putting these appointments off, but even those with glasses or contacts will put off these appointments. Both groups may not be thinking about how much their vision has changed since their last eye exam, but even if their vision is the same, eye exams check more than just how well you see.
Regular eye exams not only check your visual acuity, they are also important for catching eye diseases early. There are a number of eye conditions that an eye exam will check for and catch, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. Some brain tumors can even be caught with a thorough eye exam. The earlier conditions like these are caught, the better they can be addressed and treated. So even if you feel your vision is fine, there are many other reasons you should be getting a yearly eye exam.
While checking in on your mental health isn’t really a “yearly exam” sort of thing, getting mental health care in incredibly important for everyone. Approximately one in five adults suffer with mental illness in the United States, which is roughly 43.8 million people — and that number is likely to grow. But mental health care isn’t only for those currently suffering with mental illness; just like any other developed condition, preventative care is an important part of caring for your mental health.
While some mental health issues are biological, having more to due with a chemical imbalance that can only be addressed with medication, anyone can develop mental health problems just based on life situations. Work, personal tragedy, financial distress — so many things can cause chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Having a therapist that you trust before you feel you need one will be integral to keeping you grounded when you feel like life is falling apart. And for those who are already suffering with mental illness but continue to put off seeking help, your life will only improve by getting the care that you desperately need.
You only get one body and one life, so to ensure your life is a long one, you need to do everything you can to keep yourself healthy. Taking care of yourself is more than just eating right and exercising — you need to get regular preventative care so you can keep tabs on your health and catch issues before they become huge problems. Your oral, visual, and mental healths are just as important as your general health, and scheduling regular checkups for each of these categories will help keep you in good overall health.
Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages, and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Baymax on Instagram!