Your annual physical is an easy appointment to postpone or dismiss, especially if you’re feeling healthy. But annual physicals are an important part of your wellness routine that should be prioritized, especially as you get older. Here are our 5 reasons you shouldn’t skip your next physical.
By taking you through simple tests and asking you a series of questions, your physician can get a detailed idea of how your body is functioning. Your physician will record your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, mental faculties, and balance. They will check for any discolouration, swelling, or abnormalities in telltale areas such as your eyes, thyroid, ears, and skin. Your physician will check for the positioning and size of your organs, any buildup of fluid in your organs, abdomen, or lungs, and the responsiveness of your reflexes. Consistent annual physicals will give your physician a long-term understanding of your overall health, and help them identify any changes to your health that may be cause for concern.
Many diseases can be prevented with early detection and treatment before they become serious, but some diseases progress without showing any obvious symptoms until they are advanced. During your annual physical exam, your physician will check your vitals, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels for any unhealthy trends or abnormalities, as these can be indicators of heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. With regular testing, unhealthy changes can often be slowed or even reversed with lifestyle changes or medication.
If abnormalities are detected, your physician may order any of the following additional tests:
- Urine test to identify any possible problems with your urinary tract, kidneys, and bladder.
- Cholesterol test to measure your heart health and your risk of heart disease or stroke.
- Blood sugar test to regulate your risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes.
- Blood panel to check the function and capacity of your internal organs.
Although there are many unknowns when it comes to cancer, we do know that cancer is most effectively treated when it’s detected early. Cancer screening tests are used to check for cancer early before any symptoms appear. Many cancer screening tests cannot be done at home and must be done by a physician. During your annual physical, your physician will perform various cancer screening tests depending on your age and gender. If you are a female, your physician will give you a routine pelvic exam, pap test, and mammogram to screen for cervical, ovarian, and breast cancer. After the age of 50, your physician will begin screening for colorectal cancer. If you are a male, you will be tested for colon cancer and prostate cancer. You may also be screened for lung cancer if you have a history of smoking or a family history of lung cancer.
An annual physical is a great time to cross a few things off your list. During your annual physical, you can request to receive that year’s flu shot, speak to your physician about any trips or events coming up that you should prepare for with updated immunizations, and update any current prescriptions. You can also take the opportunity to speak to your physician about any side effects of your current medication and discuss new alternatives or dosage changes.
Living a healthy life is not only necessary for maintaining a strong and able body; it can also elevate your energy levels and reduce or eliminate your risk of illness such as depression, diabetes, or heart disease. Making healthy life choices does not have to be a solo effort. At your annual exam, your physician can offer advice on how you can live a healthier life. They will work with you, taking into account your current level of fitness and present and past injuries, to create an individualized plan to help you live a lifestyle that promotes long-term wellness. Your physician will also give you a chance to ask questions and will educate you to help you make future healthy choices for yourself.
Annual Physicals At WWMG
If you do not have a primary care physician, contact us at WWMG to be set up with one of our primary care physicians, and schedule your annual physical. To make the most of your time, and to ensure that nothing is overlooked, come prepared with the following:
Questions: Compile a list of questions about your current medication, your ailments or symptoms, and any concerns you have about your health. Writing your questions down can ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and that all of your concerns are addressed.
Medical history: Come prepared with your family history, your medical history (including any and all surgeries), and the contact information for any physicians you’ve seen recently. This will help your physician get a complete understanding of your current health and any potential risks.
List of medications: Take pictures of your medications or bring them with you to your appointment. Include any herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications such as sleeping pills or allergy medication, as these can interact with prescription drugs.
Insurance card: Bring a copy of a current insurance card to avoid any unnecessary charges. Contact your insurance directly for a full understanding of coverage.
Regardless of your age and current level of health, we hope that this list will help you see the importance of attending your annual physical, and will encourage you to be proactive about your health by scheduling regular physical check-ups.