What’s the use of going to the doctor if nothing’s wrong? An annual physical exam acts as a wellness checkup, allowing you to reconnect with your healthcare provider and discuss any health concerns you may be experiencing and any preventive steps for the future.
Why Are Physical Exams Essential
A health concern bothering you but not urgent enough to warrant a trip to the doctor’s office? Your physical checkup is an excellent opportunity to discuss any issues that have been bothering you with your doctor.
Whether it’s a nagging health concern or maybe something you heard and would want a medical opinion on, this is your time to go in and discuss it. Physical examinations allow you to assess your general health and may also help you establish a connection with your primary care physician. And it comes in useful when things aren’t quite right.
What Happens At A Physical Exam
Patients have different needs. Thus appointments are tailored to suit each situation. So, to help you prepare for your next physical exam, here are some things to expect:
First and foremost, your doctor will want to know about any new developments or problems in your health recently. The information you have to provide may include a list of the medications you are presently taking, your family medical information, and any vaccinations you had in the past.
Your primary care physician may also inquire about some aspects of your lifestyle, such as smoking, sleeping patterns, sexual health, alcohol consumption, or your diet and fitness regimen.
Any physical exam also includes an assessment of your vital signs, which is an important part of the process. Your healthcare provider will check your blood pressure, measure your heart rate, record your body temperature, and monitor your respiratory rate to see how you are doing.
Following a thorough examination of your vital signs, a doctor will often examine your physical appearance for any symptoms of irregularities or possible problems. This might entail a probe of the following:
- Skin and nails, to look for dermatological problems or diseases
- Nervous system functions, including speech, muscle strength, balance or reflexes
After a visual inspection, your doctor will proceed with a physical evaluation. Physical examinations will vary from patient to patient since each person is unique in their own way. However, the following are examples of frequent tests to be prepared for:
Heart Exam. The healthcare professional will check your heartbeat using a stethoscope. They will search for any indications of an irregular pulse or cardiac murmur. The doctor will check for wheezing, reduced breath sounds, or irregular breathing to rule out heart or lung illness.
Abdominal Exam. The doctor may tap on your belly to check for any discomfort or pain, check the size of your liver and determine whether or not you have any abdominal fluid.
Extremities Exam. The doctor may examine your joints for potential problems. They will also examine your extremities, especially your wrists and arms, for physical and sensory alterations.
Your healthcare professional may decide to take blood samples for laboratory testing based on your medical history and any risks you may have for specific diseases. Though there are no standardized laboratory tests performed as part of an annual physical examination, some physicians may request specific tests, including:
- Complete blood count
- Chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
However, if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may recommend further screenings. Cholesterol levels that are abnormally high raise the chance of a heart attack and strokes.
Testing for blood sugar is also likely if you are overweight or have other diabetes-related risk factors. Moreover, everyone over the age of 45, regardless of weight, should be checked for diabetes.
Your doctor may order screening tests depending on the results of your physical exams. These tests may differ on the specific needs of men and women.
- Testicular Exam. The healthcare professional may examine your testicles for lumps or abnormalities in size that might suggest testicular cancer.
- Prostate Exam. For males over the age of 50, routine screening for prostate cancer is suggested. However, it may be started at an earlier age, depending on family health history.
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. This is a one-time test recommended for males between the ages of 65 and 75 who have a smoking history.
- Cholesterol Test. Starting at the age of 35, men should get their cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. Men with a family history of heart disease or diabetes may be advised to get their cholesterol checked as early as age 20.
- Breast Exam. Breast exams are done to detect abnormal lumps that may indicate breast cancer or any benign breast problem. The doctor will also examine the nodes in the underarm region, as well as the nipples, for any visual abnormalities that may exist.
- Mammogram. Mammograms are advised every two years for women between the ages of 50 and 75 who are at low or moderate risk of cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may be advised to be tested sooner.
- Cholesterol Test. Most women should begin having regular cholesterol testing when they reach the age of 45. However, when a woman is at high risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, she may begin having her cholesterol checked earlier than 45.
- Pelvic Exam. This examination of the vulva, vagina, and cervix is performed to look for symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases or other problems. A pelvic exam may be performed with or without the administration of a pap smear. However, cervical cancer may be detected with a Pap test and an HPV test, which can also be used to estimate risk.
Questions Your Doctor Might Ask
This physical exam is an opportunity for you to communicate with your doctor. Therefore they will most likely ask some questions geared to elicit an open response from you. Some doctors begin with an open-ended strategy to allow patients to express any worries, difficulties, or questions they may have. This gives patients the impression that they have the chance to discuss any concerns they have.
Though not all healthcare providers use this approach, the following questions are likely to come up during a visit with a doctor:
Substance Use and Abuse
While it may be tempting not to tell the truth, your doctor is not here to pass judgment. You should be open and honest with your healthcare professional about your alcohol and substance usage, as well as any perceived issues you may have.
Family Medical History
Getting a physical exam is a part of preparing for a healthy future. This involves monitoring your genetic predisposition to health issues. Inform your healthcare practitioner if your mother has diabetes or if your sibling has just been diagnosed with cancer.
General Life Updates
Your primary care doctor may ask questions such as “How have you been?” and “How has your family been?” to get a sense of your psychological health. The answers to these questions will give the doctor a better idea of where you are in life and your mental wellbeing. This will help them determine whether you’re ready to undergo big health changes.
How to prepare for your physical
Preparing for your physical with a few easy steps can guarantee that you get the most out of your session.
- Write Down All Your Questions – By the time you arrive at the clinic, you may already forget what you meant to ask them. Preparation is key, so make a list of all your concerns and bring them up during your meeting.
- Know Your Medications – Make sure you bring a list of all of the prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins you’re taking. It’s essential that your doctor be aware of even the seemingly little details of your health.
- Bring Additional Health Data – Make sure to include any extra information about your health, such as a food diary or a symptom log, so your physician can see how you’ve been doing.
Having a physical checkup on a regular basis is a good way to keep track of your health and identify any possible problems before they become severe. Annual examinations provide an excellent opportunity to talk with your doctor about your health and the best ways to care for it.
Schedule a regular physical checkup with EG Healthcare and take charge of your health. You can count on the great members of our medical staff to be with you every step of the way. Make an appointment with us or send us a message right now!