Preventive health care
All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even when they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Look for future disease risks, such as high cholesterol and obesity
- Discuss alcohol use and safe drinking and tips on how to quit smoking
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle, such as healthy eating and exercise
- Update vaccinations
- Maintain a relationship with your health care provider in case of illness
Following are some of the tests that may be done or scheduled:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
- Cholesterol (blood)
- Colon cancer screening test
- Depression screening
- Genetic testing for breast cancer or ovarian cancer in certain women
- HIV test
- Osteoporosis screening
- Pap smear
- Tests for Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted diseases
Your health care provider can recommend how often you might want to schedule a visit.
Another part of preventive health is learning to recognize changes in your body that may not be normal. This is so you can see your health care provider right away. Changes may include:
- A lump anywhere on your body
- Losing weight without trying
- A lasting fever
- A cough that does not go away
- Body aches and pains that do not go away
- Changes or blood in your stools
- Skin changes or sores that do not go away or get worse
- Other changes or symptoms that are new or do not go away
Atkins D, Barton M. The periodic health examination. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 14.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to clinical preventive services 2012. Rockville, MD. 2012. AHRQ publications 12-05154. Available at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/pocketgd2012/pocketgd2012.pdf. Accessed January 20, 2013.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.