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January 11, 2019

Be Well in 2019: The Importance of Seeing a Doctor

The start of the new year is a time when people all over the world strive for new goals and expectations. While this is truly a beautiful thing, most people, unfortunately, lose sight of their ambitions within a few months.


Resolutions such as dieting and exercise are great goals, but there is something to be said about resolutions that positively affect the health of you and your loved ones. Resolutions such as timely check-ups with doctors improved hygiene practices, and more family time can all greatly impact your longevity.


A staggering 12 million people in the United States each year will be misdiagnosed in an outpatient care facility. A misdiagnosis can be due to a number of things; lack of attention by a doctor, lack of knowledge by the patient, or even too many symptoms making it unidentifiable as a whole. Although some illnesses aren’t preventable, being proactive will increase your chances of having the widest variety of available treatment options.


Cancer is the number one most missed or misdiagnosed type of illness, and according to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 44 percent of cancer patients are misdiagnosed at first. The most popular reasons why a cancer might be misdiagnosed includes fragmented or missing information, inadequate time for patient evaluation, and incomplete medical history.


Cancers such as breast, cervical, prostate, colorectal, and some forms of lung cancer, can be diagnosed via screening tests. Although these tests can prove to be efficient, they also can have the potential of being evaluated incorrectly resulting in incorrect diagnoses. Being diagnosed early can be life-changing, especially for those who are battling with more rare forms of cancer. Cancer’s that don’t have screening tests available might prove to be more difficult to immediately diagnose. Typically, the earlier a patient receives an accurate diagnosis, the better the chance effective treatment and a longer life expectancy.


Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer not brought on by genetics, but through exposure of an organic carcinogen known as asbestos. Cancer caused by environmental dangers have a tougher time being accurately announced in its early stages. Those who have come in contact with asbestos are typically men who have held jobs in heavy-duty occupational industries. With asbestos being such a fine mineral, after unknowing ingestion into the body, signs of illness can take anywhere between 10-50 years to show. Men and women who feel that there’s a possibility of being exposed during previous stages in their life should see a doctor and explain their concerns including past occupational history.


While symptoms of mesothelioma might be tougher to hone in on, other conditions like skin cancer may be more easily identifiable with a simple check-up. A dermatologist should be seen once a year, particularly in the warmer months as our skin is more prone to sunlight during this time. Always wear sunscreen, and take into account that just because it’s an overcast day doesn’t mean that the ultraviolet radiation isn’t any less damaging.


There’s a number of doctors that should be seen at different life stages. Here’s a list of how often you should be seeing each physician annually:


Family Doctor: Unless you fall ill or you’re pregnant, it’s really only necessary to see your general physician once a year at your annual check-up.


Gynecologist: Women over the age of 21 should be seeing a gynecologist at least once a year for a pap smear. As a general rule, women over the age of 21 should also have a pelvic exam at minimum once every other year, however women 30 to 64 should have a pelvic exam done yearly.


Dentist: Children can start seeing a dentist, six months after their first tooth comes in. Depending on dental insurance, a dentist should be seen every 6 months for a cleaning with X-Rays being done yearly.


Optometrist: Seeing an eye doctor is very important as an adolescent. Those 18 years or younger should have a check-up annually. After childhood, it’s suggested to see an eye doctor every two years or whenever you have an issue with your vision.


Allergist: Those who have allergies can look into receiving allergy shots. These shots can help to create a stronger immune system to help your body fight against them. Starting allergy shots requires the patient to be seen anywhere between two and four weeks for roughly six months, then once a month for a few years. The process can be lengthy, however, it can yield great results.


Start off 2019 by following up with any doctors or specialists that might have slipped through the cracks in 2018. Forming good habits is the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Having your doctor appointments in order can positively affect other aspects of your life and ensure a healthier you.

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Emily Walsh

E. Walsh is a rare disease advocate who is passionate about educating the community on the dangers of asbestos while giving mesothelioma patients a platform to share their story. Increasing awareness for this rare disease while discovering new innovations in healthcare and science remains her professional mission.