Most experts in the medical community recommend that we should get an annual physical examination, regardless of our age. This is because physical exams can prove to be especially useful when it comes to determining your current health status. They also open up the door for early intervention and the prevention of issues that you may be at risk of experiencing.
Additionally, physical exams give you an opportunity to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing or health goals you wish to attain such as reducing your sugar intake. In today’s post, we take a look at the importance of physical exams and the importance of checking certain areas of the body on an annual basis.
What Does a Physical Exam Entail?
1) Health History
During a physical exam, the doctor, possibly wearing an isolation gown, will ask for any updates you may have about your health. They’ll also evaluate your current health status and compare it to your health history to see if there are any changes. They may ask you questions about your medication use, allergies, supplement use, job, and relationships.
2) Visual Exam
During a physical exam, the doctor will also conduct a visual exam, which entails physically checking different parts of the body to see any signs of an underlying health issue. This entails examining the:
- Nervous System
- Musculoskeletal system
3) Physical Exams
As the exam progresses, the doctor will use various tools to take a peek into your nose, throat, ears, and eyes. They’ll also conduct a heart exam, which consists of checking your heart rate. This portion of the exam also entails:
- Evaluating the hair, nails, and skin
- Evaluating reflexes and motor functions
- Touching various areas of our body such as your abdomen to see if they can feel any abnormalities
4) Gender-Based Screening Tests
It’s important to note that the doctor may recommend additional screening tests depending on your gender.
- Mammogram – The CDC proclaims that women between the ages of 45 and 70 should get a mammogram at least once per year
- Breast Exam – Doctors conduct breast exams on females during a physical exam so that they can check for any signs of cancer
- Pap Smear Exam – Doctors use a pap smear to assist them when it comes to checking for signs of cervical cancer
- Pelvic Exam – A pelvic exam entails vaulting the cervix and vulva for any signs that are indicative of a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Cholesterol Test – Even though men are advised to check their cholesterol levels on a yearly basis once they turn 35, individuals who have a genetic predisposition to heart disease or diabetes should get annual cholesterol checks once they reach the age of 20
- Testicular Exam – In some instances, the doctor may conduct a testicular exam to look for signs of an underlying issue such as sudden changes in size, tenderness, and lumps
- Prostate Cancer Screening – If you’re over the age of 40, chances are that the doctor will consult conduct a prostate cancer screening exam as well.
5) Lab Tests
Upon conclusion of the exam, the final thing the doctor will do is to draw your blood to conduct several laboratory tests. These types of tests entail things such as a blood count test, vitamin deficiency test, blood sugar levels, and blood plasma tests. These types of tests can help to identify issues that you may be experiencing. For instance, a blood plasma test can detect issues in your liver, blood chemistry, immune system, and kidneys.
6) Optional Screening Tests
Based on your age, and if there is a genetic predisposition for getting various diseases, the doctor may also conduct additional tests, some of which include:
- Lung Cancer – The doctor may stipulate that you should undergo a CT scan of your lungs if you’re between the ages of 55 – 80. They may also conduct a lung cancer screening test if you’ve smoked tobacco over a lengthy period of time or if you’re currently smoking.
- Depression – If you’ve been feeling an abundance of stress for at least three months, the doctor may suggest getting a depression test.
- Diabetes – If you have a genetic predisposition for getting diabetes or if you’re overweight, or have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you’ll more than likely get screened for diabetes.
- HIV – In the event that you’ve had unprotected sex with multiple partners, upon disclosing this to the doctor you may have to do an HIV test in conjunction with an STI test.
These are just a few of the tests and exams you could expect. Don’t put off your physical exam. It can help you stay healthy.