What to Expect at Yearly Checkups
posted by Dr. Hall | November 21, 2016
A yearly checkup is a way for people of all ages and health levels to keep tabs on their bodies. A brief examination, also called a physical, is one of the easiest ways to detect problems early and monitor existing issues.
Some people don’t make an appointment every single year, though, and for those who do, a full 12 months can be a long time between visits. With that in mind, here are a few basic things to expect when heading in for your yearly checkup.
There’s no standard operating procedure for yearly physicals within any realm of medicine as different doctors approach the process in different ways. However, there are several elements most people can expect in some form or another when they head in for their yearly checkup. Many of these are simple, in-person examinations the doctor can perform with nothing more than their hands and a tool or two.
Some of the basics include:
This checkup is present in every physical around the world. In fact, it’s so standard that it’s often performed by a nurse before the doctor even enters the room. These tests check on some of the body’s most basic processes. They include:
Lungs and Heart:
In addition to checking basic rates for these areas, doctors will also check for the quality levels of breathing and heartbeats. They listen for abnormal activity which can signal problems that might not be detected simply by checking the rate. If anything unusual is detected, your doctor may order more in-depth tests.
History and Appearance:
Your entire medical history should be available to your doctor in these modern times, and a yearly physical is a chance to add any new information here and check on old information. Your doctor needs to know if there have been any major lifestyle changes since your last checkup, and they can put this information to use when combined with things like your family and personal history.
In many cases, a doctor won’t need anything more than a good look at you and a reference back to previous years to detect some changes.
While the above categories are the primary bedrocks of most physical exams. Several others are common as well:
Some of the most important processes in a yearly physical involve checks on gender-specific areas. These are pretty simple tests for the most part.
Most commonly in the form of a routine blood test or urine analysis, a basic lab test can help detect certain conditions that might not have been found otherwise. You may be asked to come in and perform these tests a few days in advance of your actual physical exam.
There are debates within the medical community about whether a yearly physical is truly necessary for everyone. It’s rare that these checkups leave people noticeably healthier, and some suggest that many tests involved in the process can cause more issues than they solve. There’s always cost to think about, as well.
Regular preventative care, however, has saved too many lives to count, and many find this benefit outweighs the risks. In either case, simply keeping up an open line of communication with a doctor you can trust is something everyone agrees is a smart move.
Brandon Hall, MD
Revere Health’s family medical practice in Lehi specializes in weight control, depression management, skin care, hormone replacement, cardiac conditions and cholesterol management, and we strive to provide our patients and their families with quality healthcare services. The number one way to provide safe, effective healthcare is to educate patients and make sure I listen to and understand their story and what they want to get out of their healthcare.
“Annual Physical Examinations.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/annual-physical-examinations#1
“Health Checkups.” ChoosingWisely.org. http://www.choosingwisely.org/patient-resources/health-checkups/
“Check-Ups are Important.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/family/checkup/
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.