4 Reasons to See Your Doctor Now

Tempted to bail on your GP? Don't pass on regular doctor visits without considering these first—they could save your life.

Medically reviewed in December 2020

You may have heard a lot lately about why you can skip certain visits to your doctor. Some groups say women don’t need a mammogram every year, and for many men, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests may fall in the category of “not necessary, don’t bother.”

So why should you see your doctor?

There are a million reasons, of course, including the obvious ones—you're hacking up blood, you have the worst headache of your life (which, by the way, could be a sign of a stroke), your spouse ran over your foot with the car, it hurts when you do this. But here are four other reasons that should make you think twice before breaking up with the man (or woman) in the white coat.

1. You’re not a doctor.
Watching medical shows on TV doesn’t make you an MD. And while googling your health complaints on the web—even on Sharecare—may help you become more informed, it won’t get you a definitive diagnosis or the right treatment plan. There’s a reason it takes so long to become a physician.

2. You can’t feel every problem.
You can’t feel if your blood pressure or cholesterol is too high. You can’t feel you have diabetes if you’re not having symptoms, which many people in the early stages don’t. You can’t feel if a medication—maybe even an over-the-counter one—is slowly destroying your liver. And in each of these cases, the sooner you treat what’s silently affecting you, the better.

3. Symptoms show up where you’re not looking.
Did you know that ophthalmologists are often the first doctors to detect diabetes? That skin cancer can appear between your toes or underneath your fingernails? That herpes can appear in strange places, like your nose? Your doctor knows where to look and what to look for.

4. Someday, the stuff might hit the fan.
And if it does, having a relationship with a doctor you know and trust can be a tremendous help. Being comfortable with your doctor also makes it easier to talk about those embarrassing symptoms—like problems in the bathroom or pain “down there”—that might be nothing, or might signal a serious health problem.

If you can’t remember that last time you saw a doctor, you’re probably due. Don’t have a doctor? Get one. (Let’s face it, if you didn’t have someone to cut your hair, you’d find someone long before it got embarrassing. And your health is a touch more important.) Don’t like your doctor? Find a new one. And no, your favorite TV doctor doesn’t count.

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