An annual physical or annual physical exam is basically a yearly visit
to your doctor to make sure that your overall health is okay and you don’t
have any medical problems that you are unaware of. While most healthy
adults are not necessarily required to have an annual physical, those
who have a complex medical history or even those who just want to feel
assured of their health can benefit from this type of exam and prevent
future health problems.
Below are some of the main purpose of an annual physical:
- As primary prevention
- To identify risk factors for common chronic diseases
- To detect a disease that has no apparent symptom
- As a mean for the doctor to counsel patients to promote healthy habits
- To update clinical data
- To update vaccinations
- To enhance relationship between you and your doctor
Your annual physical is also a good opportunity for you to discuss with
your doctor about any problems or symptoms you are experiencing. This
is also a good chance to bring up your questions or concerns regarding
some of your medications including birth control, vitamins, and more.
Highlights of an Annual Physical
During you annual physical, your doctor will ask you several questions
and provide counsel regarding your medical history and lifestyle choices
such as smoking habits, alcohol intake, sexual health, diet, and exercise.
Depending on how thorough your doctor is, you will also undergo a series
of routine medical procedures.
These medical procedures are done to check the following:
Vital signs- Including your blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature
General appearance- This includes the way your skin looks, your posture, as well as memory
and other mental acuity
Heart and lung exam- your doctor uses a stethoscope to listen if your heartbeat is regular
and if your lungs are clear
Head and neck exam- The doctor checks your ears, nose, sinuses, lymph nodes, thyroid, as
well as your throat and tonsils
Abdominal exam- This is done to detect liver size, tenderness, and presence of abdominal fluid
Some doctors may also include some laboratory tests including a complete
blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis. If you are a male patient,
you may also undergo a testicular exam, hernia exam, penis exam, and even
a prostate exam, especially for men who are over 40 years old. For women
patients, your annual physical may include a breast exam as well as a
pelvic exam that requires you to get a Pap test and HPV test.
If you consider yourself healthy and do not have any pressing medical condition,
getting an annual physical exam is a personal choice. Just make sure that
you not only see your doctor when you are experiencing a problem or some
kind of symptom. As they say, prevention is always better than cure.
This article contains general information about medical conditions and
treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as
such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis
of a physician.
If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should
consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.