How Often You Should Visit Each Doctor
From dermatologists to primary care providers (PCP) to gastroenterologists, various doctors serve different purposes in caring for you. With this widespread of doctors, though comes varied times that you should schedule regular visits to each. It is advised that you visit a PCP once every three years, a dermatologist once a year, and dentist two times a year.
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How Often You Should Visit Each Doctor
Knowing how often you should visit each doctor can be overwhelming with the vast assortment of doctors and specialists available. To add to the confusion, your age and health conditions can also impact the number of times you frequent a certain doctor. To better grasp how frequently you should grant each doctor a visit, check out the chart below. The list of doctors covered and how often you should see each one includes:
|Doctor||How Often to Visit|
|Primary Care Physician||1 time/3 years if you’re under 50|
|Obstetrician/Gynecologists (OB/GYN)||1 time/ year if you’re over 21|
|Urologist||1 time/year if you’re over 40|
|Gastroenterologist||1 time/ 10 years if you’re over 50|
|Cardiologist||1 time/ 2-4 years if you’re over 20|
Primary Care Physicians (PCPs)
PCPs are medical doctors who provide comprehensive medical care, as they are trained to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of conditions. You can typically find them in various medical spaces, from clinics to private practices to hospitals. If you need to be tested for a certain virus such as strep throat or any other common ailments, a PCP would be an ideal professional to start with to obtain guidance.
However, PCPs also can provide wellness checks for patients. To maintain your health, if you are under the age of 50 and have no other pre-existing health conditions, it is recommended that you visit your PCP once every three years. Once you turn 50, though, you should consider visiting a doctor every year for a checkup.
In these well checks, PCPs will be able to check for conditions such as depression, high blood pressure, risk factors for heart disease, signs of domestic violence, and more. Through these routine checkups, your PCP will be able to assess any potential risks since your last exam. With these exams, you will stay on top of your health and continually obtain recommendations on how to alter your lifestyle to achieve your best health.
Dermatologists are medical providers who specialize in understanding and helping the skin, hair, and nails. From newborns to the elderly, dermatologists are providers that are capable of seeing any age. If you find any new suspicious-looking lesions or need help with combating acne, dermatologists should be where you go to seek medical advice.
A person’s skin can change quite a bit within 12 months. Thus, it is recommended that you are above age 20; you should visit your dermatologists once a year for a skin examination. However, if you have a medical history of skin cancer, it can be recommended that you should have a skin examination every 6 months.
Skin screenings are important in maintaining your health as they monitor areas that may present cancerous concerns on the skin. Additionally, dermatologists can help with preventing acne and treating other lesions such as eczema or warts. Through routine visits to the dermatologist, you will be able to keep on top of any lesions that could be precancerous.
An OB/GYN is an individual who is trained in understanding women’s reproductive health (gynecology) and caring for women throughout their pregnancy and into their postpartum life (obstetrics). Essentially, an OB/GYN will be vital in caring for women’s pregnancy, birth control, cancer screenings, and menopause. Thus, it is critical that women choose to see OB/GYNs that they trust with handling their sensitive and personal moments in their health.
For women between the ages of 21 to 29, it is recommended that you see your gynecologist once a year. If you are sexually active before the age of 21, you should consider seeing a gynecologist before the age of 21. For most women, around the age of 16 is when it is advised to schedule an initial visit with a gynecologist and then proceed to visit them every other year until you turn 21.
Wellness checks with your gynecologist typically involve a breast exam, pelvic exam, and a pap test to screen for cervical cancer if you are 21 or older. You can also receive sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing at your OB/GYN checkups. Overall, OB/GYNs can be critical in maintaining your reproductive health.
Urologists are healthcare providers who specialize in treating urinary system disorders and functions and the male reproductive system. Urologists do see both males and females. However, males are capable of helping relieve prostate issues and any issues with male reproductive organs.
For males, once they turn 40, it is advised to see a urologist once a year. However, if you have reproductive issues in your 20s or 30s, males can also begin doing their check-ins at this earlier age. A female should seek out medical guidance from a urologist if they are experiencing any urinary issue.
Through visiting a urologist annually, males can access prostate cancer screenings to ensure the wellbeing of their reproductive health. Urologists can also assist males in treating erectile dysfunction and kidney stones and can perform vasectomies. For females, urologists can assist with common bladder issues such as urinary tract infections (UTIs).
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Gastroenterologists are medical professionals who are equipped to treat and prevent diseases within the gastrointestinal tract and liver. Both males and females are capable of seeing gastroenterologists. Gastroenterologists can be beneficial to see if you have any digestive health disorder or if you need a colon cancer screening.
Once you turn 50, it is recommended that you should see a gastroenterologist once every 10 years for a colonoscopy, a procedure that scans the colon and rectum for any abnormalities. If you have pre-existing digestive health conditions that may need special care, seeing a gastroenterologist at a younger age or more frequently may benefit. Conditions that may be worth seeing a gastroenterologist for include: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disease, GERD, celiac disease, and more.
When visiting a gastroenterologist, they will most likely perform exams on your stomach and bowels to check for any masses or tenderness. They also can run unique tests to identify specific digestive health disorders or colonoscopies. Visiting a gastroenterologist can be key in maintaining your digestive health and eradicating any abnormalities in the area.
An allergist is a medical provider who is skilled in diagnosing and treating asthma and other allergies. Allergists see individuals of all ages, both males and females. Seeking medical help from an allergist would be beneficial in identifying, treating, and preventing certain allergies.
There really is no set number on the number of times you should see an allergist or be retested for allergies, as it often depends on a patient by patient. However, on average, people are retested for allergies every two years. If you have other ongoing symptoms, though, you may be visiting an allergist more often.
When visiting an allergist, your doctor will likely first complete a medical history check. Then, they will proceed to examine your nose, ears, and throat before running an allergy test. An allergy test is usually done by a skin test where small lancets expose you to suspected allergy-causing substances (allergens) and then show signs of an allergic reaction.
Cardiologists are physicians who specialize in treating conditions in the heart and circulatory system. Males and females of all ages are eligible to visit cardiologists. If you have a pre-existing heart condition or a family history of heart disease, it may be beneficial to regularly check in with a cardiologist.
Once you hit 20, it is recommended that you go for heart checkups every two to four years with your cardiologist. In particular, if your blood pressure is below 120/80mm Hg, the American Heart Association suggests a checkup once every two years. The frequency with which you visit your cardiologist can vary, though, based on risk factors.
On average, about one in four deaths are being caused by heart disease. Thus, it is important that you attend heart screenings, particularly if you have a family history of heart disease or are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting. At your check-ins with your cardiologists, you can expect them to perform a physical exam or order tests like ultrasounds, EKGs, or stress tests.
Dentists are medical providers who specialize in dentistry and treating diseases within the oral cavity. Both males and females of all ages are encouraged to visit the dentists. In a check-up with the dentist, the dental hygienist will clean your teeth, and then the dentist will scan your teeth and review images to determine if there are any cavities.
It is recommended that individuals see a dentist every six months to maintain proper oral hygiene. Although this frequency may seem like a lot, health insurance companies typically cover these visits, and these shorter increments help dental professionals catch any issues while they are manageable.
How Often You Should See Each Doctor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To have a better understanding of how often you should see each doctor and more, take a look at some of these commonly asked questions:
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How much does it cost to visit a specialized medical provider?
This is usually dependent on the type of health insurance you have. Typically though, you will be able to pay a flat copay that covers specialized visits.
How do I see a specialist?
This is also dependent on the type of health insurance you have. If you have, for example, a PPO, you will be able to visit a specialist without any prior referral. If you have a different form of health insurance, though, you may need a referral from your PCP first to see your specialist.
What other doctors are there that I could do check-ins with?
There are still various other physicians available to help provide you with medical guidance. If you need help regulating hormones, an endocrinologist would be beneficial. Additionally, an ophthalmologist can help with eye problems; an otolaryngologist will help with the ears, nose, and throat; and a neurologist will help treat conditions associated with the nerves, spinal cord, and brain. These are just a few more examples of other specialists; the list does not end here.
Although it can seem overwhelming with the number of doctors available, routine check-ins with your medical providers are essential to ensuring that you can live a healthy life. Without these visits, you may overlook some medical issues or lesions that could lead to a variety of other health conditions. To access these doctors and healthcare visits, consider signing up for Mira, an affordable alternative to health insurance. Through Mira, you will be granted access to urgent care visits, lab testings, and more for just $45 per month.
Madeline is a Senior at UCLA majoring in Human Biology & Society with a minor in Spanish. She's currently a Healthcare Research Analyst at Mira, writing content for the blog to help the public better understand certain medical issues, technologies, testings, and the importance of healthcare.