Preventive care means taking steps to stay healthy and prevent illnesses before they happen. There are several ways to promote preventive care, including regular health screenings, vaccinations and immunizations, and physical exams.
Getting a regular annual physical exam is an excellent way to determine your current health status and learn ways to maintain good health long-term. Regular physicals allow you to seek early interventions and prevent any health issue that you may currently be at risk for.
Let us talk about what happens during an annual physical exam and why they are so important in promoting preventive care.
What Happens During a Physical Exam?
An annual physical exam is a comprehensive assessment of your overall health and well-being. During your assessment, your healthcare provider will ask you several questions about your personal medical history, family medical history, your previous procedures or surgeries, and your lifestyle behaviors like alcohol use, smoking, sexual health, diet, and exercise. They may also ask you about any complaints and concerns you have about your current health status.
After noting your health history, your healthcare provider will check your vital signs including your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature. They will also perform a physical exam on your body, including your:
- Head and neck, to examine your ear, nose, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroids, and carotid arteries.
- Heart, to reveal any irregular heartbeat, heart murmur, or other clues to cardiovascular disorder.
- Lungs, to hear your respiratory sound and find clues to the presence of lung disease like asthma or COPD.
- Abdomen, to detect the presence of abdominal fluid, abnormal masses, or abnormality in the size of the liver.
- Skin, to identify the early signs of any skin disorders like skin cancer.
- Extremities to check for any sign of a joint problem.
Your healthcare provider may also assess your reflexes, muscle strength, balance, and mental state.
Following the physical exam, your healthcare provider will order laboratory tests like a complete blood count (to screen for iron deficiency, infection, anemia, and blood cancers), lipid panel (to assess your risk for stroke and heart attack), and complete metabolic panel (to assess how well your liver and kidneys are working).
Regular annual physical exams may also involve gender-specific exams that will be performed based on your age, risk factors, and current guidelines from official websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
Generally, males receive a genital exam, hernia exam, and prostate exam during an annual checkup while females receive a breast exam and pelvic exam. Annual physical exams also provide your doctor a good opportunity to review your immunization record and see if you need any additional vaccinations to stay on top of your health.
The Importance of Regular Annual Physical Exams
Regular annual physicals allow your healthcare provider to check your overall health and detect any potential health issues early on before they become serious problems. These physical exams also help your healthcare provider in establishing baseline health measurements such as cholesterol level, blood pressure, and weight. This allows them to use these baselines to track changes over time and identify any warning signs in the future.
For individuals with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity, etc., regular physical exams help monitor chronic health conditions and adjust the treatment plan according to current health status. A regular annual physical exam is a great way for your healthcare provider to educate you about preventive measures, healthy lifestyle choices, and ways to manage your existing health conditions.
Regular annual physical exams help you to not only avoid costly medical treatments in the long run but also provide you with a peace of mind and reduce your anxiety about potential health issues. It also empowers you to take charge of your health and work with your healthcare professional to stay on track with a healthy and fulfilling life.
Annual Physical Exams in Washington, D.C.
If you are in search of high-quality personalized preventive healthcare services and are located in underserved and under-resourced communities of Washington DC, contact us here at Community Concierge Care (C3 Cares). At our nurse-led clinic, we offer a comprehensive range of preventive healthcare services including health screenings, regular physical exams, and vaccination and immunizations to help to protect our patients from serious health problems. In addition to regular annual physicals, we also offer school physicals, sports physicals, and camp physicals.