There are many life-saving precautions we take every day. We lock our doors at night, wear seatbelts, and don’t pick up hitchhikers.  So why is it that we don’t get our annual physical?

Some studies show that although 92% of Americans agree that it is important to get an annual physical, only 62% of them actually do.

Your annual physical is an example of preventive care, which is focused on warding off illnesses and diseases. If you and your doctor can catch an illness before it escalates to a catastrophic level, not only will it help you to stay healthy and productive long into your life, but it may save your life.

Anatomy of an Annual Physical

In case it’s been a while since you’ve had your annual exam, here’s what you can expect to happen at your annual physical.

Health history

Your doctor will want to discuss your personal and family health history and ask you about your lifestyle behaviors including diet, exercise, sexual health, smoking, and alcohol use.

Vital signs

Your temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure are some of the vital signs your doctor will check.

Visual examination

A visual scan of your overall appearance can give many clues about your health. You can expect your doctor to inspect your head, eyes, chest, abdomen, musculoskeletal system, and nervous system function.

Physical examination

The physical examination will include looking at your eyes, ears, nose, throat, and abdomen. Since the emphasis of the annual physical is on prevention, your doctor will take this opportunity to perform the appropriate screenings, depending on your age and gender:

  • Children: Height/weight, immunizations and developmental screenings and assessments
  • Women: breast and pelvic exams, Pap test
  • Men: testicular, hernia, and prostate exams
  • Adults over 50: colorectal cancer screening

Lab Tests

A blood draw to conduct laboratory tests may be included in your annual physical, as well. Some of the tests that your doctor may run include a complete blood count, chemistry panel and urinalysis.

A lipid panel to test your cholesterol is recommended every four to six years and your blood sugar may be checked for diabetes if you have any risk factors.

An annual physical is just as important as the little things we do each day to stay healthy—and may save your life. Make your health a priority and don’t wait until you are sick to see your doctor. Contact the Internal Medicine Diagnostic Center to schedule your annual exam.

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