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Annual Physical Exam Adult : The Basics
The Annual Physical Exam Adult is an essential part of preventive health care. While different doctors vary in how they conduct a routine physical, it will always involve listening to your concerns and providing counseling for your particular complaints and risk factors.
Your physical exam is an essential routine preventive checkup that your primary care provider performs to review your overall health and wellbeing. Scheduling an annual physical exam is a positive step to make on your healthcare journey. Here is what you can expect during your annual physical exam with your primary care provider.
1. Height and Weight Measurements
During your physical Annual Physical Exam Adult, your height and weight measurements are taken. These measurements calculate your body mass index (BMI), which screens a patient for being underweight or overweight. Since being overweight can lead to many harmful health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, it is important to know if you’re at a healthy body weight. In addition, your doctor will monitor your measurements to determine if there are any sudden weight gains or losses, which can be a sign that there is a change in your health.
2. Review Past Family, Medical, and Social History
Before meeting with your primary care provider, a nurse or medical assistant will ask you a series of questions regarding your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions including any symptoms you’re experiencing, allergies, vaccinations, past surgeries, etc. You will also be asked a few lifestyle questions that relate to your health, such as activity level, drug and alcohol use. This information is then updated on the patient’s medical record. As always, it’s important to be upfront and transparent with your doctor, as they are not here to pass any sort of judgment.
3. Complete Physical Exam
During the Annual Physical Exam Adult, your primary care provider will check your vital signs, including:
Heart rate: While a normal resting heart rate varies from person to person, the Mayo Clinic states that an adult’s heart rate should be between 60 to 100 beats per minute.
Blood pressure: This test measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart pumps blood throughout your body. Blood pressure that is considered ‘normal’ is below 120/80 mm Hg. Your lifestyle, such as your eating habits and activity level, can affect your blood pressure.
Visual exam: Your healthcare provider will complete a visual exam, including examining your eyes, chest, abdomen, hands and wrists, for signs of any potential conditions.
Blood test: A complete blood count may be ordered to check the health of your kidneys, liver, immune system and blood chemistry. Detecting an irregularity in your blood count may indicate that there is a larger issue at play. Your doctor may also perform specific tests, such as a diabetes screening or urine test, or screenings based on what your vitals and physical exam reveals.
4. Update Vaccines
Receiving the proper vaccines is an important part of your healthcare routine in adulthood. You may need other vaccinations based on factors such as your sexual lifestyle, current medical conditions, and occupation. An Annual Physical Exam Adult is an opportune time for your doctor to review your vaccination record to see if you can benefit or are due for a vaccine. Adults can receive their annual flu shot during this time; we recommend receiving this vaccine before the flu season begins, usually around October.
By following the vaccination recommendations for adults set out by health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can help to keep yourself healthy and prevent several life-threatening diseases.
5. Manage Medications
The CDC estimates that nearly 22.4% of adults aged 40-79 take five or more prescription drugs. If you are combining more than one prescription drug, this may put you at a greater risk for harmful interactions. During your physical exam, you can either bring in or write down your prescribed medications, supplements an,d over-the-counter medications to review with your doctor.
It’s important to keep in mind that even though you have been using the same medication for a long time, you should still review it with your doctor. Your body changes as you age, which can affect how medications are broken down so you may need to increase or decrease your doses.
6. Provide Healthcare Guidance
Your Annual Physical Exam Adult is also a chance to build a relationship with your doctor. During your exam, we encourage patients to ask questions or concerns related to their healthcare. Be upfront with any unhealthy habits you’d like to change so you and your healthcare provider can set realistic goals for changing them. To make the most of your exam, we recommend coming to your appointment with a list of questions prepared, if applicable. These questions can include topics, such as:
- Is there something I’m not doing healthcare-wise that I should be doing?
- Do you recommend adding any supplements to my diet?
- Am I at a normal weight for my body?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
- Should I receive any additional screening tests based on my family or medical history?
An Annual Physical Exam Adult is an important tool for ensuring good health. Note that each patient’s physical exam is different and tailored to their individual medical needs. When you prioritize your health by taking a physical exam, you are making an important choice to take responsibility for your wellbeing and quality of life.
At All Inclusive Preventive Care, our doctors and specialists are dedicated to delivering high-quality patient-centered care.
Male Physical Exam
An Annual Physical Exam for men might also include:
- Testicular exam: A doctor can check each testicle for lumps, tenderness, or changes in size. Most men with testicular cancer notice a growth before seeing a doctor.
- Hernia exam: The famous exam in which you turn your head and cough is designed to check for a weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestines and scrotum.
- Penis exam: A doctor might notice evidence of sexually transmitted infections such as warts or ulcers on the penis.
- Prostate exam: Inserting a finger in the rectum lets a doctor feel the prostate for its size and any suspicious areas.
Female Physical Exam
- Breast exam: Feeling for abnormal lumps may detect breast cancer or benign breast conditions. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes in the underarm area and look for visual abnormalities in the breasts and nipples.
- Pelvic exam: The pelvic exam allows examination of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus and ovaries. Routine checks for sexually transmitted infections are often done. A Pap test and HPV test can screen for cervical cancer and help assess risk.
There are no standard laboratory tests during an Annual Physical Exam Adult. However, some doctors will order certain tests routinely:
- Complete blood count
- Chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
A cholesterol test is recommended every 4 to 6 years, according to the American Heart Association. Your doctor might check more frequently if you have risk factors for heart disease. Abnormal cholesterol levels increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.
If you are overweight or have any risk factors for diabetes, your blood sugar will likely be checked. The American Diabetes Association recommends that all adults, beginning at age 45, should be tested for diabetes -- regardless of weight.
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 18 get screened at some point for hepatitis C. This may happen during one of your physicals.
Do You Even Need An Annual Physical Exam Adult?
The Annual Physical Exam Adult is important to monitor your health and screen for potential problems that can be fixed with early detection.
The Annual Physical Exam also establishes a good relationship between you and your physician, so that you have a doctor you trust when you experience health problems.