It may seem obvious that if you get sick or suffer an injury that you should make an appointment with your doctor. But, if you feel good and are in reasonably good health, you may wonder if it’s really necessary to schedule an annual physical exam with your doctor. The answer is “Yes!”
Think of an annual physical exam as a health check with a focus on prevention. In this blog, the experts at Generations Family Practice in Cary, North Carolina, explain what happens at annual physicals and how these exams can help you live life to the fullest.
What happens at an annual physical exam?
If you’re not sure what happen at a physical exam, here’s a good overall look at what you can expect:
For the most part, the purpose of an annual physical exam is to gauge a patient’s
neurological health and physical health as well as anticipate possible future issues by tracking health metrics over time.
These exams usually take about 45 minutes, during which your provider makes note of your general vitals, such as your weight, temperature, and blood pressure, and also examines various areas of your body, such as your:
A provider may tweak the format and frequency of these exams depending on the patient’s age, family medical history, and overall health.
Discuss test results
Typically, a provider recommends getting laboratory work, such as blood panels to test for things like glucose and cholesterol levels and other diagnostic tests, done prior to the appointment.
At the physical exam visit, your doctor can then go over the results, and, if needed, make lifestyle recommendations or prescribe medications.
An annual physical exam generally also includes a discussion period, during which you can ask your doctor about any health concerns you may have, update them on your family medical history, or discuss any other health-related issues.
This is a great time to ask your doctor about that new vitamin regimen your friend has been doing or that new diet that’s all the rage. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your immunizations — such as tetanus or shingles shots — are up to date.
Why are annual physicals so important?
Annual physical exams can help you and your provider spot potential issues early to reduce the chances of developing an acute or chronic illness. Furthermore, if you already have an illness, these physicals can help you and your provider stay on top of it to help slow down its progression or prevent further health complications.
Furthermore, many people who have serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, may not experience symptoms right away. In fact, of the estimated 116 million Americans who suffer from high blood pressure, about 1 out of every 3 people don’t even know it. Unfortunately, for some people who have undiagnosed high blood pressure, the first clue there’s a problem is when they suffer a stroke or heart attack.
Similarly, many patients with undiagnosed diabetes don’t find out until they experience an issue, such as a foot wound that won’t heal. The good news is that annual physical exams can provide an effective safety net to catch serious medical issues before they cause irreparable damage.
At Generations Family Practice, our family medicine providers offer annual physical exams to patients of all ages. If it’s been a while since your last physical exam, make an appointment by calling 919-752-3714 or booking an appointment online today.