While an annual physical exam is not required by law, it may be a good idea to have this exam to ensure that you’re as healthy as you feel! You may also see it as an alarm system that can alert you to health problems before they even occur or become serious.

The actual value a routine physical exam has actually been debated recently. Do you really need it? But it is a cherished tradition employed by doctors and patients.

What can you expect from your physical exam?\

This is an essential part of any doctor’s visit. Surprisingly, there are no absolute routines, so it may be different depending on what doctor you go to.  A good doctor will be brief, but thorough. They will also take into account your individual needs and circumstance. If you have any medical concerns, you should share these with your doctor, and they will tailor the treatment to you. A good doctor will spend time listening to you and your concerns. He will also give you counseling for your specific needs.

These are the things that will likely be checked for in your exam:

History: Here you can air any complaints or concerns you may have about your health. Your doctor may also quiz you about certain behaviors like alcohol use, smoking sexual health, exercise, and diet. Your doctor will also probably check on your vaccination status as well as update your personal and your family medical history.

Vital Signs: You should have these signs checked by your doctor:

  • Heart rate: If you are between 60 and 100 you are considered normal, though some healthy people could have below 60.
  • Blood pressure: Over 80 and less that 120 is considered normal. High blood pressure or hypertension is 140 over 90 or higher.
  • Respiration rate: 16 is normal. Breathing more than 20 times per minute can show that you may have a heart or a lung problem.
  • Temperature: 98.6 Degrees is considered normal. Some healthy people can have temperatures that are slightly lower or higher and still be normal.

General Appearance. Your doctor can tell a lot about you and your health just by watching and talking to you in the examination room. They will observe your mental quickness and memory. Can you stand and walk easily? What does your skin look like?

Extremities Exam. Your doctor will check your pulse in your arms and legs. They will also examine your joints for abnormalities. They will also look for sensory or physical changes.

Heart Exam. They will listen to your heart with a stethoscope. This can help detect a heart murmur, an irregular heartbeat, or other things that may suggest heart disease.

Head and Neck Exam. When you open your mouth and say “ah”, this shows off your throat and tonsils. The quality of your teeth and gums also lends information about your overall health. Eyes, ears, nose, sinuses, thyroid, and lymph nodes may also be examined.

Lung Exam. A doctor will also use a stethoscope to listen for wheezes, crackles or decreased sounds of breath. These could be clues to heart or lung disease.

Abdominal Exam. A variety of techniques can be employed to examine your abdomen to not only detect presence of abdominal fluid, but liver size, and bowel sounds. They also may palpitate for tenderness.

Neurological Exam. Muscle strength, reflexes, balance, mental state, and nerves may be assessed.

These are just a few things that may occur when you go in for a physical exam. it may be more inclusive or less, but either way a doctor should be checking for signs of any health problems, and it will be very satisfying to receive a clean bill of health!

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