If you haven’t seen your primary care doctor in more than a year, or if you really haven’t had a full checkup since your mom took you to the pediatrician as a child, it’s time to schedule a physical and start taking charge of your health. Your annual physical exam is comprehensive and allows your primary care provider to gain an overall picture of your health – as well as to take care of any underlying conditions or infections you may not even know you have.
The truth of the matter is, it’s all a guessing game without a full medical evaluation. You may go to one or two specialists, but they don’t check everything. An annual physical examination is the best way to stay healthy for a lifetime.
What Happens in an Annual Physical?
Although every visit may vary, here’s generally what to expect at an annual physical examination:
Checking of Vital Signs
At every annual physical, your doctor will check your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration (breathing) rate. The doctor will listen to your heartbeat and your breathing using a stethoscope.
The physician will also look for any signs of pain or difficulties, such as asthma or arthritis. If you smoke, the doctor may order an X-ray right there in the office – particularly at your first visit.
Head and Neck Check
The doctor will check your tongue for signs of inflammation or illness. Using a tongue depressor, the physician will check your tonsils and see if there is any swelling, redness, or spots.
Your doctor will also palpate the lymph nodes in your neck to check if anything is amiss. The doctor may check your eyes for vision irregularities, such as blurry or clouded vision. Your ears will be checked for signs of fluid, blockage, or infection.
Reproductive Health Check
Certain things that happen during your annual physical will depend on your gender. If you are male, your checkup will include a testicular and prostate examination. This usually involves a DRE (digital rectal exam).
If you are female, your physical may include a breast exam and a pap smear; however, the doctor may ask whether you have a gynecologist you visit annually. If so, the doctor may leave it up to your OB/GYN in order to avoid duplicate checks. The doctor will also ask whether you are having regular mammograms, and the physician may give recommendations based on your personal or family history of breast cancer.
When you make the appointment, you will likely be asked to plan on fasting after midnight the morning before your appointment and to come ready to provide a urine sample. Your doctor will have your blood and urine tested for signs of high cholesterol, diabetes, infections (such as a urinary tract infection), and more.
You may also have screening exams according to your risk factors. For example, if colon cancer runs in your family, or if you are over age 50 and you have never had a colonoscopy, you will be given a prescription order to have one performed at a nearby clinic or hospital.
Additionally, you may receive immunizations as recommended by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and according to schedule. It is also best to have your annual flu shot during this checkup.
Family Doctors in Atoka, Oklahoma
Your annual physical examination helps you to stay on top of your health. Here at Carrus Care Clinic of Atoka, our medical team provides comprehensive and convenient medical services for you and the entire family.
If you are ready to become more proactive in health maintenance and disease prevention, contact Carrus Health today. You may reach us by calling us at (580) 364-8205, or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to partnering with you for a lifetime of health and wellness.