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Important reasons to visit a primary care physician

It is vital to make personal health a priority. Despite that widely accepted truth, far too often people delay trips to see their doctors. The coronavirus pandemic only compounded this issue. An April 2020 report from Modern Healthcare found roughly one in three Americans delayed medical care as they coped with the financial loss and stress caused by COVID- 19. A report from CTV indicated Canadian cancer diagnoses were down 16 percent from 2018 to 2020 due to closed facilities or fear of getting COVID-19 from medical offices.

Concerns about the pandemic are not the only reasons individuals may skip doctor visits. Some avoid going to the doctor due to fear of the unknown. Dr. Barbara Cox, a psycholo- gist based in San Diego, told NBC News that it's common to feel reticent and anxious about going to the doctor. Around 3 percent of the population actually suffers from iatrophobia, the medical name for fear of doctors. Most just worry about getting bad news.

A refresher course on the benefits of visiting a primary care doctor may compel millions to schedule appointments and get back on top of their overall health.

• Chronic disease management: An individual with a chronic disease, such as kidney disease, diabetes or hypertension, should consult with a doctor about the ideal frequency of visits and to coordinate medication and testing with specialists.

• Vaccines and shots: Primary care providers (PCPs) o-er routine vaccinations and can ensure that individuals are up- to-date on the immunizations they need to stay safe. Tetanus, diphtheria, shingles, pertussis, flu, and now COVID-19 vaccines are vital to overall health.

• Medical referrals: A PCP can assess a health situation and refer a patient to the correct specialist if more extensive care is needed. However, many chronic conditions can be monitored and addressed by a PCP.

• Cancer screenings: UW Medicine, which specializes in patient care, research and physician training in Seattle, says most people will need a few cancer screenings as they age, including colonoscopies, Pap smears, mammograms, and other important diagnostic tests for cancer. PCPs are usually the first line of defense against cancer and can ensure patients receive the screenings they need.

• Non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries: Unless a situ ation is life-threatening or severe, thereby warranting a trip to the emergency room, most people can visit their PCPs for help treating a variety of conditions. When in doubt, individu als should first consult with their general practitioners about the right course of treatment.

• Routine lab work: Blood and urine tests o:en are part of annual well visit checks. Many PCP o0ces have phleboto mists on staff so that lab work can be conducted in the convenience of one place and then sent out for testing.

• Work or sports physicals: Certain employers require physical examinations, as do schools and recreational sports leagues. PCP offices are the place to go for these types of examinations, which are generally recommended annually.

Primary care physicians are often the first people to turn to for a bevy of health and wellness needs.

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