Yearly physical checkups are a common practice for primary care providers. Often called a physical, this checkup is a great way for people of all ages to check in with their doctor and make sure all the body’s main functions are working in the ways they’re supposed to. In some cases, physicals can even help detect diseases or complications that wouldn’t have been discovered otherwise.
There’s some debate about the need for a yearly physical checkup within the medical community. Some suggest that tests and treatments involved are overpriced and can cause more issues than they solve. Others value yearly checkups for their ability to help patients stay on top of their health and wellness. If you have questions about yearly physicals, talk with your doctor about any concerns and how physicals can maximize your care.
Physical Basics – What to Expect
One of the first things your doctor (or nurse) does when you come in for a physical is check your basic vitals in several important areas. These include:
- • Heart rate: The healthy range for humans is between 60 and 100 beats per minute for resting heart rate.
- • Temperature: The body’s normal temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re more than a couple degrees off in either direction, it could be a sign of a problem.
- • Blood pressure: A two-number reading is your output here, with 140 over 90 serving as a basic healthy level. Blood pressure levels that reads too high or too low can be a cause for concern.
- • Breathing rate: Usually your doctor tests this by pressing a stethoscope up to the lungs and listening. Many issues of the lungs are picked up by this simple examination.
It sounds simple, but there are plenty of times where a basic visual examination can be enough to signal certain issues to your doctor. In many cases, this can lead to your doctor ordering more detailed exams.
Depending on these simple tests, coupled with your personal and family medical history, your doctor may order other tests:
- • Skin
- • Abdomen
- • Nerves and reflexes
- • Head and neck
- • Joints
There are times where your doctor might feel the need to order certain laboratory tests based on what they see in a physical. Generally, laboratory test are not a standard in physical examinations.
There are a few simple tests that may be conducted based on your gender. These can be important, as they check basic parts of the reproductive system to make sure they’re in order.
- • Pelvic exam for cancers and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Includes pap tests and HPV tests.
- • Breast exam to check for lumps or signs of cancer. Also will include checking the lymph nodes under arms.
- • Testicular exam to check for lumps or changes in size or tenderness. Any of these could signal cancer or another problem.
- • Prostate exam using a finger inserted into the anus to check for any problems with the prostate, a vital organ.
- • Hernia exam to check for issues between the intestines and scrotum, also called the abdominal wall.
- • Penis exam to check for the possible presence of STIs.
If you haven’t been to a doctor in a while, it may be a good idea to schedule an annual physical to make sure everything in your body is functioning properly.
Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages. Our commitment is to provide thorough and timely health care for the entire family throughout all stages of life.
“Annual Physical Examinations.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/annual-physical-examinations#1
“Regular Check-Ups are Important.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/family/checkup/