How to Prepare for Your Annual Physical

According to an annual report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease and cancer continue to be the top two causes of death for men and women in the US, with conditions like diabetes and stroke also affecting millions. Many of these conditions are not just treatable, but they’re also preventable. 

One effective way to help with prevention of many of these problems is your annual physical. In addition to getting a fix on your state of health, your annual physical also consists of screenings for many conditions in the CDC report. So, preparation for your physical will help your doctor better understand your current state of health.

For annual physicals and other treatments, residents of the Little River, South Carolina area can rely on the experience and care of Dr. Rogers Walker of Walker Family Care.

Reasons for your annual physical

There are many reasons for your annual physical, including gauging your overall health, updating immunizations, checking on your diet and exercise regimen, checking for issues that can become problems in the future, and checking for early signs of disease for possible early treatment. These are also good opportunities to discuss any new issues or concerns you may have about your health.

Annual physicals take into consideration things like your family history, personal history, and your health status from the previous year. Checking for cholesterol, blood glucose (blood sugar), and blood pressure levels is a common practice for annual physicals, and some are typical of normal doctor visits. 

What to expect from your annual physical

Generally, you can expect your annual physical to update your health over each year. This means factoring in any changes over the year regarding allergies, supplements, medications, or surgeries. 

For both men and women that your annual exam will usually consist of:

Vital sign exam

This includes the blood pressure tests and electrocardiogram (EKG) tests to check your blood pressure and respiratory rates, respectively. If there are any anomalies you may be referred to other specialists for further tests.

Visual exam

A visual exam allows for doctors to check for potential conditions. Checking your head, eyes, chest, abdomen, hands, and wrists can help your doctor determine possible problems that can be treated early. 

Physical exam

This includes testing your motor functions, listening to your heart and lungs, and examining parts of the body for abnormalities. This can also mean checking your hair, skin, nails, and genitals.

Lab screenings

Drawing blood and urine can help your doctor check for a variety of different issues like diabetes, high cholesterol, kidney problems and other issues. Diabetes and high cholesterol in particular can both contribute to heart disease, so getting information on that as you get older is important.

In addition, for women this will also mean Pap smears, pelvic exams, mammograms, and tests for osteoporosis, a condition for which women are at high risk for as they get older. As men age, there is testing for the prostate and screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (men who have smoked that are 65 and older are at greater risk). STD screenings and vaccinations can also be expected.

What you should do to prepare for your physical

Preparation for your physical means having all the information your doctor needs to make informed decisions about what to look for and how to proceed. Make sure you have a list of all your medications, allergies, herbal supplements, and any relevant information about family history or previous operations. Your doctor will also need to know if you have any internal devices such as a pacemaker or a neural stimulator. 

If you have any health concerns or other medical questions, your annual physical is a good time to get information. So, if you're ready for your physical, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Family Care today.

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