What to Expect During Your Annual Physical Exam

Seeing your doctor for an annual physical exam is a good way to ensure that you're in good health. Physical exams are designed to catch diseases and chronic conditions in their early stages. They also give you a chance to ask questions about your health and wellness.

Some adults only see their doctor when they're feeling ill, but there are many advantages to seeing the doctor at regular intervals for checkups. Checkups enable the doctor and patient to develop a rapport. Checkups also allow the doctor to determine what symptoms are normal for that patient and what is out of the ordinary. This makes it easier for the doctor to accurately diagnose problems when they arise. Here's what you can expect during your regular annual physical exam. 

Vital signs

Often a visit with the doctor will start with a collection of your vital signs. Some vital signs may be taken by the doctor, whereas others may be recorded by the nurse. For example, the doctor may listen to your breathing and heart rate, and the nurse may take your temperature and blood pressure. When this collection of information happens, in what order and by whom may depend on a variety of factors and may vary from one visit to the next. 

Medical history

On your first visit, your doctor will ask you about your medical history. This may lead to an extensive conversation about your family history, personal history and symptoms you might have recently experienced. Your doctor will ask you about medications you're currently taking and how often and how long you've been taking those medications.

In subsequent visits, you'll probably skip the discussion of your medical history because your doctor will take notes about your history and include them in your file. If you have a medical file from another doctor's office, the doctor will probably request a copy of that file to keep in the office. 

Physical examination

During the physical examination, your doctor may ask you to sit on the end of the examination table or may ask you to lie down. Very likely, you'll have to change positions depending on what your doctor is examining. The physical examination enables the doctor to check out the major systems in your body like your heart and lungs, neck and head, chest, limbs, skin and extremities.

The doctor will ask you questions about how you feel, will observe your body and your behaviors and will perform small tests to see if your body is functioning normally. If you're a woman, the doctor may give you a breast exam as a part of your physical examination. 

Blood work 

Blood work is not a standard part of every physical examination, but the doctor may include blood work if you are exhibiting certain symptoms, have a history of certain problems or if you are above a certain age and it's been long enough since your last blood test. Your blood test may tell your doctor about your cholesterol, blood sugar levels and other information as needed. 

Wellness information

Your doctor may talk to you about wellness and your lifestyle as it relates to wellness. For example, your doctor may ask you about your eating habits, exercise regimen, stress levels and stress coping techniques, sleeping habits and your everyday aches and pains. Your doctor may ask you whether you drink or smoke and, if so, how much. Your doctor may make recommendations based on your answers and the state of your health. 

Question and answer session

One of the great benefits of having a physical examination is that you can take the opportunity to ask your doctor questions about your symptoms. Write down your questions in the days before your visit so that you can ask them all at once. When you're done with the visit, your doctor may recommend a follow-up date, depending on the information collected during the visit. 

Is it time for your annual physical appointment? Request your appointment with Walker Family Care through our website. 

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