It’s easy to blow off an annual physical, but yearly exams are essential to keep you healthy. Some people approach a physical with anxiety and fear and want to avoid them at all costs.
Arming yourself with knowledge and preparing yourself for the appointment can relieve those fears and make the experience easier and more comfortable.
For the most part, doctors follow a checklist for your annual physical exam. Here’s a list of the things we check regardless of your gender.
You will fill out paperwork that will ask you detailed questions about your medical history and your family’s medical history.
We will go over the paperwork with you and discuss your current lifestyle and habits. At this time, you will also discuss any health concerns you currently have.
We will check and record your:
- Blood pressure
Heart And Lung Exams
We will use a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat and breathing.
We will gently tap your knees with a small mallet to check your reflexes. We may also ask you to push or pull with your hands and feet to check for muscle strength and balance.
Head, Neck, and Abdominal Exams
To check for sensitivity and abnormalities, we will gently press on your:
We will also ask you to say “ahhh” and place a tongue depressor on your tongue so we can look inside your mouth and throat to check for anomalies.
Although not as thorough a check as the one you would get from a dermatologist, we will glance over your body to check for:
- Abnormal moles
- Spots on your skin
We will take blood samples and order a complete blood work analysis or an analysis of certain things like:
- Blood sugar
- Vitamin D
Routine Tests and Checks
There is also a set of routine tests and checks we will perform based on your:
- Recent medical developments
- Family history
Women can expect some additional components. Performing these tests and evaluations is critical to your health and well being.
They are an essential diagnostic tool that helps us keep track of the changes taking place in your body. If we note any irregularities, we will follow up on what we can immediately, or we may refer you to a specialist.
Some cancer screenings like pap smears to test for cervical cancer and mammograms to screen for breast cancer (after age 40) are standard procedure. However, if other cancer risks are made evident from your family history, we may also order additional screenings.
We will perform a visual and physical exam of your breasts and look for bumps, lumps, or skin abnormalities that could indicate breast cancer or other non-threatening breast issues.
This age-specific component determines the stage of menopause you are in or when menopause may start for you.
Preparing for Your Annual Physical Exam
1. Schedule Your Appointment
If you don’t already have a PCP, you can contact your health insurance company for a list of providers who are accepting new patients in your area. If you don’t have insurance, research local clinics that offer health and wellness services.
2. Determine If You Need to Fast
You may need to fast. Some labs or blood tests require patients to fast before having blood drawn. Make sure to ask if you need to fast before your physical. Follow their directions, or you may find yourself having to return for another appointment.
3. Make a List of Your Medications
Draft a list of medications you are currently taking, including:
- Prescription drugs
- Herbal supplements
- Over-the-counter medications
Also, be sure you have a list of the other medical care providers who are prescribing medications these medications for you.
4. Send Your Medical Records
If you are transferring from one doctor to another, you will need to transfer your medical files. Doing this will save you and your doctor time.
If you are seeing the same PCP but have had any medical tests conducted by other specialists since your last physical, bring in a copy of the test results. Also, bring their names and contact information with you so that your PCP can help coordinate your care.
5. Bring a Current List of Your Immunizations
Keeping up-to-date on immunizations is a critical element of your overall healthcare.
The Cost of an Annual Physical Examination
If you have health insurance, most, if not all, of the cost of your physical exam should be covered. If you do not have insurance, an annual exam could cost anywhere from $100 to $1000 depending on the provider and what labs are run.
Medicare does not cover an annual physical exam; however, if the visit is labeled as a”medicare annual wellness visit” and meets all of the requirements, Medicare will pay for the visit.
Your Visit Is Confidential
If you are dealing with intimate or difficult issues like incontinence, erectile dysfunction, or abuse, you may hesitate to bring it up. Although these issues may feel embarrassing or shameful to you, we are professionals and here to help you without judgment!
Rest assured, the answers to the detailed questions we ask are in effort to review your body’s systems and will be kept confidential.
Take Your Annual Physical Exams Seriously
We can diagnose conditions in their early stages before they become a serious health threat. If you struggle with finding a primary care provider you feel comfortable with, we can help!