No matter your age, gender or physical conditions, having a yearly checkup is crucial for keeping healthy. Going to regular checkups helps you to build a strong relationship with your doctor, and you are more likely to be more honest and open to them about issues like depression, stress, or drug abuse. Furthermore, they will keep records on all your visits, and you can easily access them if you need to.
A yearly checkup also saves you money in the long run because preventative health care will reduce the risk of potential health conditions that could cost you a lot of money to treat. Your physician will also give you advice and tips on how to maintain your health better.
The health care professional will update your medical history, including adding any lifestyle changes such as smoking or drinking alcohol, supplements that you are taking, current diet, exercise and sexual health. This is the right time to tell the doctor about new concerns and update your family history.
Check Your Vital Signs
The doctor will check your blood pressure to make sure you are not suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), which is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases. The doctor will:
- Listen to your heart rate to check if you may be suffering any cardiac disease.
- Check your breath rate to detect if there is any problem with your respiratory system or lungs.
- Take your temperature to make sure you are not suffering from an infection.
Examine Your Skin
The doctor can gather information about your overall health just by looking at you. Your doctor will see the condition of your hair and skin, the presence of dark spots, scars and skin conditions.
Head and Neck Checkup
The doctor will check the health of your teeth and gums to get important information about your overall health. It is also important to check the throat to look for signs of infections or gastrointestinal issues. The doctor will also look at the health of your ears, nose, sinuses, eyes and thyroid.
The doctor will check your mental state, balance, motor skills, reflexes, etc.
At your annual physical exam, the doctor can use different techniques to examine your abdomen, such as using a stethoscope to listen to the abdomen and looking for any abnormalities. Then, the doctor will touch the abdomen to detect any abnormal mass and presence of abdominal fluid.
The doctor should take a look at the genitals and touch them to detect any signs of sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Depending on your condition, the doctor may require you to have different lab tests to have a better picture of your health condition. Those exams can include a complete blood count, cholesterol test, blood sugar levels test, urine test, electrolytes test and diabetes check if you have a family history. The doctor can indicate additional blood tests or other screenings depending on your risk factors.
The screening tests on your wellness checkup will vary according to your sex and age.
Breast Exam: To detect any signs of breast cancer.
Mammogram: This test is applied to women age 50 to 75, and it can be done yearly or every two years depending on the risk they have for breast cancer. Mammograms are still one of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early. They can detect it up to three years before it starts showing symptoms.
Osteoporosis screening: Women are more prone to suffering osteoporosis after the age of 65, so depending on your age and risk factors, the doctor will perform a bone density scan.
Pap smear: Any women older than 21 years old should get this exam done. It identifies cellular changes in the cervix that could be caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It detects early signs of cervical cancer and allows women to start treatment before the condition gets worse.
Prostate cancer screening: Every man should get a digital rectal exam and PSA test since the age of 40 or the age of 45, especially if they are at risk of developing prostate cancer. The earlier this type of cancer is detected, the more effective the treatment will be.
How to Prepare for Your Annual Physical Checkup
Are you nervous about your yearly health checkup? Don’t worry. Follow these tips to get the most out of it:
- Make a list of all the current medications that you are taking. This includes not only prescription medicines, but also vitamins and herbal supplements.
- Write down all of your concerns and recent symptoms you have experienced so you don’t forget anything at the appointment.
- If you have visited a specialist, bring his or her contact information to your appointment. If you had any medical tests through the specialist, bring a copy with you as well.
- Be 100 percent honest about your lifestyle habits. This includes alcohol use, drug use, diet, exercise habits, sex life and quality of sleep. Your doctor cares about your wellness and should not judge you for anything, so be transparent. Certain habits like alcohol abuse can interact with some prescription medicines and increase your risk of suffering chronic conditions. Knowing this information will help the doctor to take better care of you.
- Fast for at least eight hours before if you are getting a blood test.
- Talk about any allergies and what specific symptoms you suffer when you have an allergic reaction.
- Don’t be afraid of finding a new doctor if your current one doesn’t seem interested in your health or makes you feel uncomfortable. The right physician should listen to all of your concerns and have your best interests in mind. If you don’t like your doctor, it will be harder for you to attend the yearly checkup and communicate with your doctor effectively.
Your annual health checkup is key to ensure your health and prevent or manage any big health conditions. After reading this article, you will know how to get prepared for it and what to expect at the appointment.