Your annual checkup and physical exam are as essential to maintaining good health as eating your fruits and veggies and getting regular exercise. However, many adults go years without a primary care checkup. Why? We’ve found a couple of reasons. 1) Many adults think an annual checkup is just a quick look at their vital signs and they don’t feel it’s worth the time. 2) Some adults are anxious about visiting their primary care provider out of fear of what they might find out.
We understand your doubts and fears, but we also know just how important a simple annual checkup is to your health and overall wellness. That’s why we’re explaining what to expect at an annual checkup and why the seemingly simple tasks of checking your blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels are necessary for detecting underlying concerns.
Expect a discussion of your personal and family health history.
One thing we know about history is that we can all learn from it. The same can be said for your provider when it comes to knowing your health history. Your provider needs to know if you’re at a higher risk for conditions that often recur in families like diabetes and heart disease. They also need to know about any health problems you may have had in the past, and they need to know about any lifestyle choices you’ve made that could affect your health, like drug or alcohol use and your sexual lifestyle.
Your vitals will be taken. Here’s what they’ll check and why.
- Your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure levels are 120/80 or less. Anything above 130/80 is considered hypertension, which can put you at a higher risk of stroke or heart disease.
- Your heart rate. Your heart should be between 100 and 60 beats per minute. It’s not uncommon for people to have heart rates that beat less than 60.
- Your respiratory rate. Did you know that normal breathing rates are between 12-16 breaths per minute? Breathing more than 20 times per minute is a sign of a possible lung or heart problem.
- Your temperature. Normal temp is considered at 98.6, but it’s not unusual for healthy people to run at a degree or two higher or lower.
After your vitals, your provider will look over other things like your overall appearance because your skin and outward appearance can say a lot about your health. During your visit, they’ll also pay attention to your mental agility and memory and you can expect questions about your sleep and any mental struggles you could be experiencing, like depression and anxiety.
Now it’s time to move on to the examination part of the appointment. You should expect exams such as:
- Head and neck exam. Time for the popsicle stick…er, tongue depressor! Having a look at your teeth and gums, as well as your tonsils and throat are just a few areas that speak volumes about your health. Expect other areas like your eyes, nose, lymph nodes, ears, and thyroid to be checked as well.
- Heart and lung exam. Your provider will use a stethoscope to listen for sounds such as wheezing and cracking in your lungs for signs of lung disease. Then they’ll listen to your heart for signs of a problem such as an irregular heartbeat or heart murmur.
- Abdominal exam. Those taps on the stomach and listening to the sounds in your belly through a stethoscope lets your provider know quite a bit about your liver and if abdominal fluid is present.
- Neurological exam. Assessing your mental state is just one part of the neurological exam. Your provider will also check things like your balance, nerves, and reflexes.
- Dermatological exam. Your skin and nails offer tell-tale signs of concern for dermatological concerns and other diseases in the body such as diabetes.
- Extremities exam. This is when your provider checks for physical and sensory changes and abnormalities in your joints.
These are the basic exams adults of all genders and ages can expect during an annual checkup. Men and women can expect additional exams based on their genders such as breast and pelvic exams in women and prostate, hernia, and testicular exams in men.
As you can tell, your annual checkup is actually pretty vital to your health. Speaking of vitals, there’s no better time than right now to give EliteCare a call to schedule your annual checkup. Dial or text 662-348-3342 to request an appointment now!