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Preparing for Your Annual Physical Exam

If you’re feeling unhealthy, a checkup can help you identify any underlying issues. Visiting your physician regularly can help you avoid health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and others down the road.

Why should you get a yearly physical?

Yearly physical exams help your provider determine the status of your overall health. It also gives you the opportunity to get to know your physician and discuss any health concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing.

Do I need to be a certain age to get a yearly physical?

Most doctors recommend that all patients get a physical at least once a year, and especially patients over the age of 50. Even if you are younger than 50, getting a physical is an important step in taking care of your health. It can allow you to discover potential “silent” conditions and get ahead of them in order to avoid any negative surprises later on.

Annual checkups are especially important for those who have a family history of medical conditions like cancer or high blood pressure.

What to expect from your annual physical:

At your annual physical, you can expect your doctor to:

  • Check your vital signs. This will include taking your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration rate. This helps them create a baseline for your overall health.

  • Perform the physical exam. This will include checking your ears, eyes, and throat. They may also ask you if you have had any aches, pains, or symptoms that you’re concerned about.

  • Update your vaccines. Depending on your age and how long it’s been since your vaccines have been updated, your physician may recommend new vaccines or booster shots to help you stay up-to-date.

  • Update your health records. If you have experienced any change in your health or if you have any existing conditions, your provider will help keep your current practices & records up-to-date.

  • Make sure you get the screenings you need. If you need a blood test, colonoscopy, or any other test, your physician will let you know.

  • Give guidance on preventing the risk of conditions/diseases. Your doctor may provide you with information to help you manage factors like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. They may also give you guidance on helping you to quit smoking or manage/lose weight.

  • Manage your medications. If you’re currently taking or need prescription medications, your doctor will check to make sure that you have what you need. And, they will make sure that they do not negatively interact with any over-the-counter medications or supplements you may be taking.

What should men expect at their physical exam?

In addition to the general exam, men should expect their physician to conduct the following exams:

  • Testicular exam. Your physician may check for lumps, tenderness, and changes in size.

  • Hernia exam. The doctor will check for weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestines and scrotum.

  • Prostate exam. Your physician will make sure that your prostate is a normal size and that there are not any other abnormalities.

What should women expect at their physical exam?

In addition to the general exam, women should expect their physician to conduct the following exams:

  • Breast exam. They’ll check your lymph nodes and underarm area for visual signs of abnormalities. They’ll also check your breaks for abnormal lumps.

  • Pelvic exam. Your physician will check for abnormalities in your pelvic area.

How to prepare for your visit:

Preparing ahead of time can make you feel at ease when you visit your doctor. Here are some ways you can prepare for your visit ahead of time:

  • Bring a list of your current medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements.

  • Make a list of any pain, aches, or symptoms you may be experiencing.

  • Bring relevant results from any recent tests or screenings.

  • If you have an implanted divide like a defibrillator or pacemaker, bring a copy of the front & back of your device card.

  • Bring a list of any questions you want to ask your doctor.

If you’re looking for a new physician for your primary care, visit our “about us” page to learn more about Advanced HealthCare!

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