Wellness/Annual Physical Exams
What is an annual physical examination?
An annual examination, also known as a physical exam or physical, is an essential part of preventative healthcare. Annual physical exams provide you with an opportunity to focus your attention on your current health and to be screened for conditions that could impact your future health. Regular physicals are important because they can help to identify a more serious medical condition in its early stages before it begins to cause problems.
What does an annual examination involve?
During your physical exam, your internist will perform a thorough medical history, which includes reviewing your personal and family medical history and lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol use, diet, exercise and sexual health. He or she will then perform the following:
- Vital Signs Exam – Vital signs reflect essential body functions. Some of the vital signs checked are: blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature.
- Heart Exam – A stethoscope will be used to listen to the heart in order for your doctor to evaluate for irregular heartbeats, heart murmurs or any other heart-related diseases.
- Lung Exam – A stethoscope is used to listen for crackling, wheezing or decreased breath sounds in your lungs.
- Head and Neck Exam – Your throat and tonsils will be checked along with your ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes and thyroid.
- Abdominal Exam – There are different examination techniques for the abdomen including tapping the abdomen to detect liver size, examining for tenderness and using a stethoscope to listen for bowel sounds.
- Neurological Exam – The doctor will assess your nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, and balance.
- Extremities Exam – Joints will be assessed for abnormalities and your pulse will be checked in the arms and legs in order to look for anything that could point to potential circulatory issues.
- Laboratory Testing – Laboratory tests may include a complete blood panel, chemistry panel and urine analysis.
Male and female annual exams differ slightly. In addition to the above, a man’s annual exam may include a testicular exam, hernia exam, penis exam and prostate exam. A woman’s annual exam may also include a breast exam and pelvic exam.
In addition to differences in physical exams based on gender, age will also impact what elements are included within your annual check-up. Although health issues can affect anyone at any age group, at the age of 40 for women, it is usually time to start annual mammogram screening for breast cancer. For both men and women, the age of 50 is typically the recommended time to begin screening for colon cancer.
What are the advantages of getting an annual physical exam?
An annual exam is one of the best ways to be proactive about your health. Regular physicals not only help you to maintain good health, but they can also prevent future health problems from occurring. Addressing potential health issues before they begin may not only save you time and money down the road, it can also save your life.
Annual physical exams are an important aspect of maintaining good health and should be done even if you feel completely healthy. Your physical exam provides you with an opportunity to speak with your doctor about your health, habits, and how to maintain good health in the future. At Centra Internal Medicine our physician is known for providing compassionate and personalized care. Schedule an appointment for your annual exam today by calling us at 623-594-4126. You can also make an appointment online.