ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMS AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T SKIP THEM
Many diseases are asymptomatic for a long time. The only way they can be diagnosed early is your annual physical exam performed by your family doctor. If you’re Bulgarian and you pay your health insurance, getting an annual checkup is not only your right but also an obligation.
WHAT DO THEY INCLUDE?
Roughly, the exam consists of patient history, getting your weight and blood pressure measured, an electrocardiogram, blood tests (complete blood count), and a urine test with test strips.
If you fall into a risk group for a given disease, you are eligible for a secondary checkup by your GP. High-risk patients will be referred to a specialist (cardiologist, endocrinologist, etc.) , which is mandatory. At the discretion of the GP, you may also be given a referral for other tests, such as blood sugar and TSH.
People in certain age groups are eligible for even more tests. This is the PSA test for prostate cancer in men over 50 and a mammogram for women over 50.
CHECKUPS AT YOUR GYNECOLOGIST’S
It is advisable for every woman to visit her gynecologist once a year. The doctor will perform a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, a Pap smear, and an STI test. It is important to get examined each year because many gynecological issues like cervical cancer are asymptomatic but highly treatable at the beginning. The lack of treatment of some infections may be a cause of infertility.
PROPHYLAXIS AND THE BULGARIAN
The annual physical exam in Bulgaria is mandatory. Missing it will cost you up to 100lv and deprivation of your healthcare insurance rights for a month.
Unfortunately, a large part of the Bulgarian population regularly misses their annual exams. Many people believe that you shouldn’t go to the doctor unless your symptoms are severe. Until then, a lot of people rely on home remedies. Another impediment is the perception that the exam is associated with many extra costs. In fact, you only have to pay the consumer fee.
Prevention is much more effective than intervention. It is always better to go to your annual physical exam and find out that you are healthy than to postpone it until it is too late.