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Don’t let excuses hurt your health

When you get the notification from your doctor that it’s time for your yearly physical or checkup, what do you do? Do you schedule the appointment immediately? Or do you grit your teeth and say you’ll think about it later?

If you tend to put off going to the doctor, it might be time to think about why.

“Everyone has different feelings about going to the doctor,” said Dr. Cybele Pacheco, Geisinger Western Region Community Practice director. “Some people are happy to come in, other people get ‘white coat syndrome’ where they get especially nervous in the doctor’s office. Regardless of why you’re going to the doctor, it’s best to not put it off. Regular doctor visits can help keep you healthier in the long run.”

It’s time to throw out these six common excuses for not going to the doctor: 

“I don’t have a doctor or primary care physician (PCP)”
“If you don’t have a doctor currently, think of it as an opportunity,” said Dr. Pacheco. “Think about your criteria for a doctor—their location, their hours and their specific specialty. You can search with tools like MyGeisinger and you can even schedule appointments online.”

You don’t have to commit to a doctor immediately. If you’re not thrilled after an appointment, go to another doctor until you find one you like. 

“My doctor is going to judge me”
At doctor visits, your doctor may ask you about uncomfortable topics, such as your emotions, drug use and sexual activity. 

As a result, many people are afraid that their doctor is going to judge them for their behavior. This can cause people to lie about their medical history. 

“Your doctor is not there to judge you,” said Dr. Pacheco. “They’ve seen and heard it all—they’re trained professionals. It’s their job to advise you on how to be healthier. Plus, because of HIPAA laws, they are only allowed to discuss your health concerns with you.”

“My doctor is going to lecture me about my weight”

If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may mention it in your checkup—it’s their job to help you be healthier. However, your doctor will not “get mad” at you for it. 

Instead, your doctor may recommend strategies to help you lose weight because being overweight can have negative effects on your overall health. 

Don’t let your weight stop you from seeing the doctor—especially if it’s something important. If you have a serious problem, your weight will not be their primary concern. 

“My doctor will think I’m being dramatic”
Some people think their doctor won’t take them seriously, or that the doctor might think they’re being a hypochondriac. But if you’re noticing any kind of problem, such as a pain, ache, rash or anything else abnormal, don’t worry about what anyone thinks—you need to tell your doctor. 

“Your doctor can’t help you if they don’t know your symptoms,” said Dr. Pacheco. “The important thing is to bring up your issues and trust your doctor’s judgment.”

“I can’t find time in my schedule”
For people with jam-packed schedules, it may seem hard to find time to go to the doctor. But no matter how busy you are, it’s important to make your health a priority.

“Every doctor’s office has a different schedule, so take advantage of offices that fit your schedule,” said Dr. Pacheco. “If it’s too difficult to find time during the week, some offices have weekend hours. Find an office that fits your needs.”

“I don’t want to hear bad news”
If you’re apprehensive about going to the doctor because you think they’re going to validate your worst fears, waiting even longer won’t help. 

If you suspect that something is wrong, see your doctor as soon as possible. This can help prevent your condition from getting any worse. 

Cybele Pacheco, MD, is director of Geisinger Western Region Community Practice. To schedule an appointment with a family physician, call 800-275-6401 or visit
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