When is the right time to see your doctor?

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Most people visit their doctor for two reasons: 1) when it’s clear that something is wrong and the symptoms are not going away on their own, or 2) for an annual checkup. But maybe there’s an even better time to go to your doctor. What would happen if we saw our doctors before the small issues became big ones? What if we saw our doctors to prevent illnesses?

In conventional medicine, most procedures that fall under the umbrella of “prevention” are usually screenings for specific diseases. These procedures look for specific markers that mean a disease is developing. That’s why things like colonoscopies, Pap smears, and mammograms are regularly used – to look for the first signs something is going wrong, perhaps even before you notice any symptoms. This is what an annual check-up is for in conventional medicine.

In naturopathic medicine, prevention starts even earlier. While the regular “preventive” screenings are still encouraged, naturopathic doctors aim to address disease processes before they even have a name, perhaps when they are smaller issues or a few “random” symptoms.

Have you ever been to the doctor’s office, mentioned something that has been bothering you, and been told that it was nothing to worry about for now? Naturopathic doctors, by training, are interested in subtle symptoms that may be the body’s first signs of imbalance. We are comfortable listening to and addressing the quieter signals from the body, and supporting you in achieving not only the absence of symptoms, but rather the presence of vibrant health and resilience—the best way to prevent disease.

In turn, our treatments can range from subtle and supportive, perhaps addressing more subtle imbalances, to stronger interventions to address bigger problems. Naturopathic doctors are always working to address the root cause of the problem, promoting healthy physiological function rather than just making symptoms go away.

If we’re thinking about prevention, then addressing the subtler symptoms to prevent them from becoming bigger problems is where NDs shine. That means that you are less likely to leave the office with a prescription, and you may be less likely to need one in the future.

Lastly, naturopathic medicine is a growing field[1] that uses a completely different model of healthcare. Visits often range from 60-90 minutes, with attention paid to your values, priorities and interests. This added face-time with your doctor means that your doctor knows you. If something should go wrong, let’s say you need to go to the hospital for some reason, it can be incredibly helpful to have a doctor who knows you and your medical history well.

Interested in getting a jump on preventing illnesses before they start? Be sure to schedule today.

[1] Fleming SA, Gutknecht NC. Naturopathy and the primary care practice. Prim Care. 2010;37(1):119-36.

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