The path to better health starts with you! The first step is to take control. You may need advice on health and lifestyle goals or help dealing with a pre-existing condition. Starting – and maintaining – a relationship with a primary care provider (PCP) can help you with your journey.

Yearly wellness visits with a PCP are key to maintaining your overall health. And when health issues pop up between visits, your PCP can also help. Here’s why all ages should have a PCP:

A PCP helps keep you healthy
When you get regular check-ups, your PCP gets to know you better and know what is normal for you. A PCP can identify small issues early by tracking your health markers – such as blood pressure, cholest-erol, and weight changes – and keep a close eye on them. If he or she sees changes from visit to visit, this may point toward the beginning of a chronic condition, such as hypertension or high cholesterol that may not have any symptoms. And these conditions often relate to more serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, or even a stroke.

A PCP can treat the “whole person”
A PCP can treat more than the flu and an ear infection. He or she will remind you when it’s time to get immunizations and important health screenings, like mammograms and colonoscopies. These wellness services can help you maintain your best health by finding conditions early and treating them before they become more complex. A PCP can also help you with family planning, treating anxiety and depression, controlling allergies, and more.

A PCP recommends specialists when necessary
If your PCP notices something that needs to be further looked at by a specialist, he or she can refer you to a specialist who can best care for your specific health needs. Your PCP can also provide the specialist with your health history and records to save time at your first visit. It’s especially easy if both physicians are within the same health system. And after you see the specialist, your PCP will be updated and get your records for needed follow-ups.

A PCP is the keeper of your health history
Over time, your PCP will get a thorough under-standing of your health and lifestyle plus your family’s health and history. This knowledge, your health records and list of medications help your PCP better assess your health and diagnose medical conditions. That’s why it’s so important to have all your medical history and records in one place – with your PCP.

If you’re looking to begin a relationship with a PCP, Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital’s team of primary care, internal medicine, and family medicine physicians are here to help. Whether you’re located in Murphy, Andrews, or Hayesville, Erlanger has you and your family covered.

For more information, go to