CEO WITH A STETHOSCOPE, MARCH 2015

5 Reasons To See A Doctor Today

Patients are being forced to become educated consumers in healthcare. Insurance companies have shifted costs to the insured by raising premiums and deductibles. For this reason, patients have studied and researched how to wisely use their own healthcare dollars. Unfortunately, some have used their increased deductible as a reason to put off or delay a visit to their doctor. By using an analogy of your home and homeowner’s insurance, I hope to shed light on why this may be the exact opposite of how you should be looking at the situation.

Your home is usually your most valuable material possession. We take pride in our homes and keep up with its routine maintenance. We check the roof to make sure there are no leaks; we cut the grass to keep out unwanted rodents and to also keep our yard looking nice. We may have our home sprayed for termites each year because we can’t see termite damage until it’s a big problem. Because of the value of our home, we take out insurance and pay a monthly premium to keep it insured so that if major damage occurs, our insurance will cover it. However, notice that our homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover routine maintenance on our home. We pay out of our pocket for routine upkeep of our homes: painting, cutting grass, fixing gutters, replacing windows, etc.

Why, then, do we shy away from paying our “routine maintenance” on our truly most prized asset…our health? We pause if we have a co-pay for an annual check-up. We delay getting our colonoscopy and mammograms. We wait to get our cholesterol or blood pressure checked.

Here are 5 reasons to not put off your doctors visits for one more day:

1. Many problems have no symptoms: High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because you don’t have any symptoms until it’s dangerously high. The same goes for high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar. However, if these problems go unchecked for a long time, they can lead to stroke, heart attack or even death.

2. Medical problems affect people differently. I often hear that “my mom had colon cancer but she had rectal bleeding.” Yes, some colon cancers do present as rectal bleeding, but most do not. Many breast cancers show up as a mass you can feel, but many do not.

3. Many illnesses will do no harm if caught early. Some common forms of skin cancers can be cured if diagnosed early and removed. If you wait, then you could be in trouble. Some lung cancers can be treated if picked up in its early stages while others are deadly if caught too late.

4. Most patients with cancer do not have a family history of cancer. I hear this one all the time: “I don’t need a mammogram; no one in my family has had breast cancer.” Well, that may be the case, but most patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of breast cancer, so mammograms are recommended for all women, regardless of their family history.

5. You are never too young or too old to get cancer or have a heart attack. I often am told “I didn’t come in sooner, because I thought I was too young to have a heart attack.” We have seen patients locally in their 30’s have heart attacks. Also, cancer is not only a disease of the older population; it can affect people of any age, including children. At your doctor’s visit, you can explain any symptoms and see if it is worrisome enough to warrant further testing. Your doctor can also tell you of recommended screenings or tests based on your age and gender.

This blog entry is not meant to scare you, but to educate you on the dangers of myths and misinformation about common illnesses. So, next time you go to pick up new filters for your heating and air conditioning unit, think about doing some routine maintenance of your most precious possession…your health.

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