The Importance of Health Check-Ups
As children, our parents/guardians made sure we got our yearly checkups, kept track of appointments, and made sure we were all good and healthy after being sick. After a certain age though, when they stopped checking in as we became more and more independent, we tend to slack when it comes to our health. Speaking from personal experience, ever since my parents stopped taking me to my appointments, I haven’t seen a doctor; granted I felt healthy, and I didn’t see the need to get checked up if I wasn’t sick or injured. My first doctor’s appointment without my parents was at 21 and my last one before that when I was around 15 or 16 years old. I knew I was healthy and didn’t have the need to see a doctor, but the point of yearly checkups is a preventative method for many illnesses or diseases you may not see or feel physically but be seen through blood work and health screenings. During my first doctors visit, they ran all the tests and said:
“Congratulations, you are healthy. See you again next year.”
That gave me peace of mind. They also did my first pap smear which was uncomfortable, but very necessary for women’s health and can be used to catch cancers & infections before they get serious. After my first appointment, I felt good knowing I have nothing to worry about.
When I returned the following year, my blood work showed that I was vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency is a common deficiency that causes issues with your bones and muscles. It most commonly affects people over the age of 65 and people who have darker skin. It’s preventable and treatable. I believe this might have been due to the lack of sunlight I was getting during the pandemic, as I spent six months locked up in the house. I was given supplements to take for a month. An alternative treatment would be to spend 10 minutes a day in the sun and eat more foods that contain vitamin D. I was able to get my Vitamin D count right back to normal before it got worse and now, I’m more aware of what I have to do to keep that from happening again. After that encounter, I was more aware of the importance of yearly checkups and health screenings. Just because you feel fine now, doesn’t mean there are no other hidden things you might not know of without getting tested.
Another important health screening is testing for STDS. It’s better to be safe now than sorry later. It shouldn’t feel embarrassing to get tested for STDS. It is the best preventive and proactive measure you can take to ensure your sexual health is up to par. If insurance is a worry for you, there are other options for getting cheap or free health screenings. For those of you that live in Southern Nevada, UNLV offers free and reduced preventative care for all students enrolled. You can also find free health clinics around you or apply for medical assistance for low-income individuals to get free health insurance. Remember, yearly checkups are a preventative method to avoid and catch illnesses before they manifest into something bigger.
All this to say it is very important to get your yearly health checkups because you never know what is really going on in your body until you get tested. Feeling well doesn’t always mean there is nothing wrong. Whether it’s something small that can be cured easily or big, the best way to prevent anything is by being proactive about your health and catching it early. As I’ve learned in public health, it is easier to prevent something than to treat it.
This post was written by Kidest, an intern at Immunize Nevada.