Being healthy is the basis of a positive lifestyle. Whether you are 8, or 80, a physical checkup is key to maintaining your personal health. Because health issues and chronic diseases develop over time, knowing all of your baseline health markers can be the factor in identifying potentially life-threatening bodily issues.
What to Expect
During a physical checkup, your physician will begin by investigating your health history. This may include questions about your lifestyle behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual activity, diet, and any physical activity; they will also check to see if your vaccination history is up to date. Once your health history is confirmed, your primary care physician will conduct several tests to record your vital signs.
Example physical tests performed include:
- Checking your blood pressure – normal range is less than 120 over 80
- Heart rate – values between 60 beats per minute and 100 BPM are in normal range, though rates lower than 60 are considered healthy in many individuals. Your doctor will also listen to your heartbeat to detect any irregularities which may indicate heart disease.
- Respiration rate – 12 – 16 breaths per minute is normal for a healthy adult, and more than 20 may suggest heart or lung issues. Your doctor will listen to your lungs for any crackles, wheezes, or shortness of breath to rule out any chances of lung disease.
- Temperature – Normal average temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Some variation is natural, but significant deviation can indicate illness or infection.
- Head & neck exam – Checking sinuses, ears, nose, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries for any irregularities or indicators of potential ongoing issues.
- Abdominal exam – checking the abdomen by tapping to detect liver size and any potential digestive issues.
- Neurological exam – testing nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance and potentially mental state.
- Dermatological exam – your doctor will look for any potential skin diseases or indicators of dermatological issues.
While this list can seem intimidating, each test is relatively quick and non-invasive. Gathering the data for all of these is crucial to tracking your health over time, and can even identify potentially life-threatening illnesses. It’s important to note annual physical exams should be performed with your primary care physician. We are more than capable of handling acute injuries and illnesses. Every patient may experience the above tests, however male and female patients each will also include gender specific tests such as:
- Testicular exam – checking for lumps, tenderness, and any signs of testicular cancer.
- Hernia exam – if you know the “turn your head and cough” exam, this checks for weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestines and the scrotum.
- Penis exam – checking for any evidence of sexually transmitted infections.
- Prostate exam – for at-risk males, or males over 40 years of age, a doctor may perform a digital (inserted finger) prostate exam to check the size and regularity of the prostate.
- Breast exam – feeling for abnormal lumps which may indicate cancer, and checking the lymph nodes in the underarm region, and checking for visual abnormalities of the breasts and nipples.
- Pelvic exam – the pelvic exam includes the vulva, vagina, and cervix. These checks are both for STIs and also may include a Pap smear test or HPV tests to assess risk of cervical cancer.
In addition to the physical your doctor may order some lab work done on your bodily fluids to verify any risks or concerns they may have. The three most standard tests include:
- Complete blood cell count
- Chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
Completing Your Physical
After you have completed your physical, your physician may make recommendations of treatment with a specialist if there were any issues found. It is imperative to your health and longevity that you not only go to the doctor for a physical every year, but also follow through on their advice. At Prime Urgent Care, we can accommodate patients who need physical exams with speed and compassion. Don’t let your health be a mystery, schedule a physical exam today and take control of your health.