It’s easy to self-diagnose these days, especially with endless online sources, and inventive apps to refer to. But the importance of a visit to your health professional should never be underestimated.
It’s easy to self-diagnose these days, especially with endless online sources, and inventive apps to refer to. But the importance of a visit to your practitioner should never be underestimated. Learn why, and how, to benefit from the wide-ranging knowledge and experience of your local health professional – and all the services they can offer.
General practitioners (GPs) are the first point of contact for most Australians seeking medical attention, with almost 90% of the population seeing a GP at least once each year. GPs are qualified to deal with all kinds of issues, from physical and mental health, to pregnancy and family planning. They can also refer you to specialists or other healthcare professionals in cases where they require additional expertise or resources to diagnose or treat you. Many clinics have in-house or visiting specialists, including, for example, naturopaths, dietitians, psychologists, women’s health specialists and integrative doctors who combine conventional medicine with naturopathic approaches.
For children and the elderly, regular check-ups at least once a year are recommended, while for healthy adults with no medical problems, a check-up every two to three years is acceptable. If you’re wondering why, there are plenty of good reasons to check in with your health professional every so often. Beyond checking your current general health, they can also help assess and minimize your risk of future medical issues.
Often, we only seek medical attention when we’re sick. But actually, preventive health care is just as important. Knowing your body and equipping it for the future can help to keep you healthy in the long-term. Some examples of preventive healthcare include blood pressure, blood-sugar and cholesterol tests, cancer and screenings including mammograms and colonoscopies, counselling and vaccinations.
Sometimes these routine tests may indicate that you need to adjust your diet or lifestyle in order to reduce your risk of health problems later in life.
When visiting your health professional, be prepared to describe your symptoms in detail. They will likely ask you about when the symptoms started to appear, your recent medical history and any medications you are taking. It’s a good idea to write this information down if you find it difficult to remember. Sometimes, if an issue is persisting, it may be a good idea to keep a diary of your symptoms and take photographs to share with your doctor (if symptoms are visible).
Importantly, make sure you ask all the questions you need to understand your diagnosis, and any treatments, medicines or tests that your doctor recommends.
Here are some good questions to start with:
And if prescribed a medicine or treatment therapy:
Natural health products can supplement health by providing additional support that can benefit different body systems. Discussing natural medicines with your healthcare professional can help you to understand which are most suitable for you and your current health needs. Your regular healthcare professional can request further information on natural health products from companies with practitioner support teams. Alternatively, you could find a clinic or healthcare professional that specialises in integrative medicine.
While educating yourself on possible conditions and treatments via the internet or through friends can be a good place to start, it’s no substitute for speaking with a qualified medical professional. Your healthcare professional can help to make sense of the enormous amount of information on a condition and personalise treatment to meet your specific needs based on your current health and other medicines you are taking.
References available on request.