One of the factors in leading a happy and healthy life is taking care of your general health. Primary care physicians can be of great help with that. No matter your age, visiting one has plenty of benefits, including the fact that a more serious illness can be discovered and treated by a specialist before it becomes a more serious issue.
In this article, we will talk about what primary care is, what are the specialties that this section of medicine covers, and how often you should pay a visit to your primary care physician.
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What Is Primary Care?
Contrary to specialists, such as neurologists, oncologists, cardiologists, and so on, primary care providers focus on the patient and their general care rather than specific diseases. They are the first point of contact between a person and the healthcare system.
Health services provided within primary care cover a wide range of prevention, care, and treatment of common illnesses. If what you’re experiencing is more serious, they will direct you to the right specialist.
So, now that we have touched upon what primary care is let’s take a look at what primary care specialties there are.
Physicians specializing in family medicine work with patients of all ages, which is why their training is focused on providing comprehensive care and treatments for a wide range of diseases. Some of the things they do, aside from providing preventative care, are performing health screenings and physicals.
Family medicine physicians are an especially popular choice among families that lead a hectic life and prefer to have one doctor take care of all of the members of their family than having a few different ones.
Internal medicine practitioners are also often called internists. Contrary to family medicine doctors, internists only treat adults. They specialize in the treatment and prevention of simple and complex medical conditions and chronic illnesses, especially the common ones such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity.
Pediatricians only treat children from when they are born until adulthood when they get moved under the care of an internist. They are responsible for treating diseases and conditions that are more common among younger patients. Aside from preventative care, they are also responsible for things like physicals and vaccinations.
Many parents decide to take their children to a pediatrician instead of a family medicine physician because of the fact that they work solely with kids, which means that they might have an easier time connecting and putting them at ease – especially when a child doesn’t like going to a doctor or is shy.
You won’t find this one on every list, as some people don’t consider gynecologists and obstetricians as primary care practitioners – however, we think that they should be included since they’re essential in providing care to female patients.
Gynecologists monitor and treat women’s reproductive systems from when they are teens. They provide services such as Pap tests, STI tests, pelvic exams, and so on. Obstetricians, on the other hand, take care of you before, during, and after your pregnancy, as well as oversee the delivery of your baby.
An OB/GYN can help you with anything, from your reproductive health to family planning, menopause, and more.
Just like OB/GYNs, geriatrics practitioners are also sometimes not considered as primary care providers. However, since they provide care to patients over the age of 60, we, again, think that they deserve a spot on your list.
Geriatricians treat and provide preventative care to older patients, often dealing with diseases and injuries that are more common among that age group, such as memory loss or any injuries that are a result of a fall. They also help them manage medications, as it is no secret that older patients tend to have more prescriptions that they need to take properly.
Oftentimes, the role of a geriatrician is to help an elderly person maintain the ability to do certain things by themselves, such as bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and so on.
How Often Should I Visit My Primary Care Physician?
There’s not really one answer to that, as there are things that impact it, such as your age and your health, as well as whether there are any risk factors for chronic illnesses or diseases such as cancer.
However, if we’re to follow general guidelines:
- If you are in good health and under the age of 50, you should visit your primary care physician once a year.
- After the age of 50, you should visit your primary care physician twice a year and get your blood test done twice a year as well.
- If you have a child, they should visit the primary doctor once every year from the age of 5 until 18. Younger children should visit them more often.
- If you are a woman over the age of 21, you should visit your OB/GYN once a year. If you’re pregnant, the visits will be more frequent.
The Bottom Line
Primary care physicians are an important part of the healthcare system – they are the first point of contact between it and the patients. They are responsible for providing patients with day-to-day healthcare services.
It’s important to note that primary care isn’t a specialty in itself – within it, you have a few different ones, such as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, and geriatrics. Which one you will have to go to depends on factors such as your gender, age, and personal preference.
Finally, if you’re wondering how often you should visit your primary care doctor, the answer is that there’s no answer – it all depends on you and your health. There are, however, some general guidelines, which we mention above.
With that being said, we have reached the end of this article. Visiting primary care doctors is crucial, so don’t hesitate to book an appointment to see one. We are here to serve you!