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The Importance of Annual Physicals

When you tell someone you have a doctor’s appointment, they usually respond in a concerned manner. The instant distress most people relate to the doctor is because they think it must mean you’re sick, but being sick isn’t the only time you should go to the doctor; on the contrary, going to the doctor while you’re healthy is one of the best ways to stay healthy.

Many conditions don’t show obvious symptoms until the later stages when treatment and recovery is more difficult, but your annual physical is a chance for your doctor to detect a condition in the early stages – which is why going for your annual physical exam is so important!

They’re an imperative part of preventative care because seeing your primary care doctor annually can greatly reduce your risk of illnesses, detect a condition early, overall better your health, and can even extend your life expectancy! Read on to learn the benefits of going for your annual physical.


Benefits of an Annual Physical

Would you rather prevent an illness or react to one? This is the most important reason behind annual physicals and why everyone should get one! Annual physicals give your doctor a chance to go over your health history, review any changes, and encourage lifestyle changes for healthier behaviors. Your doctor can also help you realize risk factors that may lead to future health complications and provide advice and resources to help you manage them.

Review Lifestyle Behaviors
Your annual physical is an opportunity to talk with your doctor about certain lifestyle behaviors that may be harmful to your health and learn how to change them. Cigarette smokers can benefit from gaining information on the harmful effects of smoking and the resources available to quit, someone who has trouble sleeping can be advised on the best methods and medicines to sleep better, and so much more – your doctor is an encyclopedia of knowledge, and the best way to get your health-related questions answered is to discuss them during your annual physical.

Build Relationships
Taking the time to get your annual physical is a great way to strengthen the relationship between you and your doctor. You may be wondering about the importance of building a good relationship with someone you may only need to see once a year, but think about it! People who build a rapport with their doctor are more likely to trust in their advice and recommendations, be more honest and open about their lifestyle and behaviors, and feel more comfortable asking questions and actually booking appointments.

Mental Health
Your doctor is there to support your mental health as well as your physical health, and having a good rapport with them will likely make you feel more comfortable opening up. Talk to them about your stress levels and if you have any symptoms of depression or anxiety, as they’ll be able to give you proper screenings and refer treatments.

Staying up-to-date on vaccinations is an important preventive measure to ward off illnesses and can potentially save you from future health complications. Talk with your doctor about which vaccinations you’re due for and strive to get a flu shot before the end of October (although it’s better to get the shot late than never).

Review Prescriptions
Your annual physical is a great time for your doctor to review all the medications, including over-the-counter medications, that you’re taking so that they can ensure there are no harmful interactions or side effects. They can also give you recommendations for alternative medications if they have better suggestions.

Physical exams are an important preventative service recognized by most insurance companies, so the check-up shouldn’t cost more than your copay. Think of it as a little bit out of your pocket now to prevent costly medical bills in your future.


What to Expect During an Annual Physical

Your doctor will perform a quick physical exam to check your vitals, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Temperature
  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory rate
  • Body mass index (BMI)

They will also utilize tools to examine your eyes, nose, throat, and ears, as well as:

  • Listen to your heart and lungs
  • Feeling parts of your body for bumps or other abnormalities
  • Visually inspecting certain parts of your body (like skin or nails)
  • Test your motor functions and responsiveness

Dependant on your risk factors and health history, your doctor may want to draw your blood for lab tests or recommend additional tests including:

  • Cholesterol test
  • Diabetes screening
  • Cancer screenings (colonoscopy, mammograms, etc.)
  • Urinalysis
  • Mental health screenings

How to Prepare for an Annual Physical

Unless your doctor specifically asks you to bring anything or fast prior to the appointment, there’s nothing you really have to do beforehand. Rather, just be prepared to answer questions about:

  • Symptoms you may be feeling
  • Any lifestyle changes that could affect your health
  • Your allergies
  • Current medications you’re taking
  • Information of other doctors you may be seeing
  • Recent lab test results
  • Your diet/exercise routines
  • Your sleep pattern
  • Cigarette/alcohol/drug use

Care, for all aspects of life

Call or come into your local CareCube today to learn how we can help you!