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 why you shouldn’t skip your next physical.
By taking you through simple tests and asking you a series of questions, your provider can get a detailed idea of how your body is functioning. Your health provider will record your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, mental faculties, and balance. They will check for any discoloration, swelling, or abnormalities in telltale areas such as your eyes, thyroid, ears, and skin.
Next, the provider 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 provider a long-term view 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 provider 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 such as hypertension. With regular testing, unhealthy changes can often be slowed or even reversed with lifestyle changes or medication.
If abnormalities are detected, your provider 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. 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 health provider. During your annual physical, your provider will perform or recommend various cancer screening tests depending on your age and gender.
If you are a female, your provider will perform a routine pelvic exam and pap test to screen for cervical and ovarian cancer. After age 40, annual mammograms are recommended to screen for breast cancer. After the age of 50, your provider will write a colonoscopy referral to screen 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 checkup, you can:
- request to receive the current flu shot
- speak to your provider about any trips or events coming up that you should prepare for with updated immunizations, and
- update any current prescriptions.
You can also take this opportunity to speak to your provider about any concerns, side effects of your current medications, and discuss alternatives or dosage changes as needed.
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 lifestyle choices does not have to be a solo effort. At your annual exam, your provider can offer advice on how you can live a healthier life, and provide guidance on any changes you need to make.
They will take into account your current level of fitness and present and past injuries to create an individualized treatment plan. Your provider will also give you a chance to ask questions and will educate you to help you make future healthy choices for yourself. WWMG providers partner with patients to help you live a lifestyle that promotes long-term wellness.
Annual Physicals At WWMG
If you don’t have a primary care provider, contact us at WWMG to get set up with one of our providers, and schedule your annual checkup. 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 medications, your health conditions and/or current symptoms, and any concerns you have about your mental and physical 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 provider get a complete understanding of your current health and any potential risk factors.
- 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 some 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 encourage you to be proactive about your health by scheduling regular check-ups for your physical and mental health. Request an appointment today at one of our 7 primary care locations.