The Importance of Caring For Your Health in 2021

Author
Laura Lifshitz
April 1, 2021

Covid-19 kept us home in 2020 and is likely to continue doing so in 2021, so we can all be safe. The one issue however, is that last year, many of us avoided seeing our doctors due to the virus … but that left us susceptible to other health issues, not to mention, kept us from caring for ourselves as we should. As much as we should socially distance, wear masks and stay home as much as possible, we also need to make a resolution to ourselves to care for our health needs in 2021. By caring for our health needs and making good lifestyle changes, we can be in our best shape and health, which is key during a pandemic in which no one wants to be vulnerable. 

Here are a few ways we can care for ourselves for the rest of this year and put our health first:

See Your General Practitioner for Your Annual Visit

Going in for an annual visit is a great way to keep track of your health.

Your GP will check all your vitals—from blood pressure to your heart rate. This is a good way to make sure your body is operating as it should be. 

Your doctor will also:

  • Perform a physical exam, even inspecting your eyes, ears and throat for any potential problems.
  • Review any screenings you may need: blood work, bone density tests, urine test, colonoscopies, etc.
  • Discuss your health habits: are you currently smoking? What about your exercise and fitness habits?
  • See if you need any vaccines or boosters.
  • Review treatments you have or are or need to receive, as well as discuss preventative measures to care for yourself.
  • Manage any medications you are on, from over the counter to prescriptions.

doctor visits 2021

There are so many things which could be going unchecked without seeing your doctor: blood pressure issues, high cholesterol, thyroid issues, etc. Consider visiting with your GP as a touch base and starting point from where to take your health to the best place possible.

The same would go for children: get kids in for their well visits, which will encompass much of the same as above for adults, as well as included discussions over developmental milestones and stages.

Get Your Teeth Cleaned

Do not wait a long time to get your teeth cleaned! Now is the perfect time to get your dental x-rays, teeth cleaning and mouth check for oral cancer completed. Waiting a long time to see the dentist can result in tartar buildup, missed signs of oral cancer, shifting teeth or infections. Being proactive with your dental cleanings and check-ups will help keep your teeth and gums in good health.

Visit Your Eye Doctor

It’s very important to visit your eye doctor to screen for any vision issues. Too many people go far too many years in-between visits to their eye doctor.

Typically, you should see your eye doctor for screenings at this frequency, depending on your age and that’s only if you have no eye issues. If you wear glasses or contacts or have vision loss or other issues, you need to go more often, and typically, once a year:

  • Age 40 or younger: Every five to 10 years
  • Ages 40 to 54: Every two to four years
  • Ages 55 to 64: Every one to three years
  • Ages 65 and up: Every one to two years

annual eye exam visit

Your eye doctor will screen for a variety of things that you cannot do at-home:

1. Any refractive errors: Meaning, if you are nearsighted, farsighted or happen to have astigmatism.

2. Any refractive errors due to age: Many people can develop eye issues over time, like farsightedness.

3. Cataracts: These can make the eye milky and can cause blindness; while this can happen more to older patients, it can happen at any age and not getting proper treatment can cause you to lose your eyesight.

4. Macular Degeneration: This is vision loss due to thinning of the macula in your retinas over time, causing blurring; while you should see an eye doctor to check for this issue, you can do this at-home test to see if you may have macular degeneration before heading into the doctor. Another type of macular damage is pigmentary maculopathy, which has been linked to the interstitial cystitis drug, Elmiron. If you have taken this drug, you are strongly encouraged to go see your eye doctor.

5. Diabetic retinopathy: This is the leading cause of blindness in American adults and a complication of diabetes. This makes going to see your GP doubly important if you have diabetes as well, in order to control your blood sugar and diet properly.

6. Glaucoma: This is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve, affecting vision and causing vision loss and blindness.  Early treatment of Glaucoma can protect your eyes against vision loss

There are also many other eye issues the eye doctor can check for. This is why visiting the eye doctor is so important in keeping your eyes healthy and functioning well.

Get Your Routine OBGYN Visit Done

Don’t skip your OBGYN, ladies! Visiting your OBGYN annually is so important in keeping your reproductive and sexual health well. Most women start needing regular annual pelvic exams at the age of 21, as well as pap smears, although pap smears are often performed every 3 years. 

So, at your annual exam, your OBGYN will conduct a pelvic exam and a pap smear (unless you get one every 3 years, which is currently the recommendation).  Because my family has an incidence of cancer, I do one yearly. Additionally, your doctor will give you a clinical breast examination and once you hit age 40, he or she will refer you for a mammogram every 1-2 years. 

What Else Happens at the OBGYN?

 Your doctor will discuss with you the following things:

  • Your period: Is it heavy, painful or irregular?
  • Your shot record: If you’re under 18, have you received the HPV vaccine?
  • Your birth control methods: Are you using birth control? If so, what? An IUD? The Pill? Just condoms? Are your birth control methods working for you? Do they have any side effects?
  • Your sexual activity: Are you having sex regularly and protected? Are you using birth control? Do you need to go for STD testing?
  • Your reproductive goals—if you have any: Discussing planning to or trying to conceive a baby.
  • Your general health: How is your thyroid and blood counts? What about your weight, blood pressure, etc.

Seeing an OBGYN regularly is a smart move and an empowering way to care for your sexual health.

Going Forward in 2021

2020 was a crazy and stressful year and with Covid-19 still around, 2021 still has challenges, but leaving your health to go another year is a very dangerous move. 

As much as we must stay safe, social distance and wear our masks, we must also see our doctors, who are following Covid-19 safety protocols, in order to take preventative measures for the years ahead.  

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