Getting an annual medical check-up is an essential practice that helps you ensure your current health status. Physical exam plays a critical role in preventive care, as your doctor will perform the necessary tests to detect the presence of anomalies on your body. Early detection and treatment of diseases are perhaps one of the most important benefits of healthcare check-up.
If you want to learn more about what happens during an annual medical check-up, we will discuss everything you need to know.
What is a Physical Exam?
A physical exam is a wellness check that involves different procedures to ensure that you are in good condition. Undergoing a physical exam at least once a year helps medical care providers to determine your overall health status.
During a medical check-up, primary care providers, including doctors and nurses, will perform routine tests to check for any signs of abnormalities. This exam gives you a chance to talk to your medical care provider about any ongoing symptoms or pain that you might be experiencing. It is also a good opportunity for your doctor to answer your questions and discuss your health concerns.
Your doctor may offer counseling sessions for your complaints and provide treatment plans to prevent the occurrence of health-related problems.
Why Is Physical Exam a Preventive Care Practice?
As its name implies, preventative care focuses on the prevention of serious diseases and medical problems before they progress into significant conditions. An annual physical exam is the pillar of preventive care practice alongside immunization, screenings, and tests. This branch of healthcare works hand in hand with diagnostic care services to detect possible health concerns.
Who Needs an Annual Medical Check-Up?
According to experts, everyone should take a trip to the doctor and get tested. Even if you’re generally healthy, it is still essential to get yourself checked-up. Studies show that physical exam helps with the detection of diseases that only professional medical practitioners can identify.
Therefore, it is still necessary to have a routine check-up every once in a while. This position is regardless of whether you think there is nothing wrong with your health.
What Happens During a Physical Exam?
Before meeting with your preventive care provider, a nurse or staff will ask a series of questions about your medical history. This time is your chance to disclose past medical history and existing concerns about your health. You will most likely receive queries regarding existing allergies, hospitalization records, family history, as well as your current lifestyle.
Your doctor will check the following vital signs for your records:
- Blood pressure. Using an apparatus, your doctor will take note of your blood pressure. A consistent blood pressure reading should not be more than 120 over 80. A reading of anything above 130 over 80 indicates that you have high blood pressure.
- Heart rate. An average heart rate value depends on a person’s physical status. However, it is most common to have a heart rate reading between 60 to 100.
- Respiration rate. A healthy adult has a standard respiration rate of 12 to 16 breaths per minute. If your respiration rate reaches 20 times per minute, it could be a sign of an underlying lung or heart problem.
- Body temperature. The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some people have a resting temperature or slightly lower or higher.
During this part of the exam, your doctor may ask you to strip off so they can inspect your body for unusual growths or marks. You will also need to lie down as your doctor will feel several parts of your body, including your abdomen, neck, and chest. By doing this, your doctor is taking note of the presence of any inconsistencies. These include the size, tenderness, and texture of your organs.
Using a stethoscope, your doctor will listen to your heart and lungs. This procedure helps them evaluate and make sure that there are no abnormal sounds in your respiratory system. In case an unusual murmur is heard, your doctor will request you to undergo an imaging scan, particularly a chest x-ray.
Your doctor will tap some parts of your body. This technique allows them to identify any presence of fluids on areas where they shouldn’t be. In a percussion exam, your doctor will be able to locate the consistency, borders, and size of your organs.
Additional exams are provided depending on your gender. For men, your doctor will take a look at your private organs, including the testicle and penis, for any signs of lumps, tenderness, and ulcers. The doctor will also check your prostate by having a feel on its size. A hernial exam is also necessary to check if there is a weakness between the intestines and scrotum. On the other hand, a woman’s annual exam includes a breast and pelvic exam. Routine checks on these areas include having a feel for the presence of lumps and other abnormalities.
Following Up After a Physical Exam
After the physical exam, your doctor will provide you a copy of your results. If there are any suspected conditions, your doctor may request an additional test or procedure to confirm its presence. Your health care provider can also ask for a follow-up check-up and point out several areas that require attention, depending on your results. In case the diagnostic test yields a confirmation of a condition, your doctor will provide you with the necessary steps to take and treatment plans.