Your Annual Physical: Dreaded But Necessary

March 18, 2013

For some people, the idea of going to get an annual physical is almost as bad as going to the dentist. Almost as bad…nothing’s worse than the dentist.

Some people look at annual physicals positively; and they’re right to do so. They look forward to their annual physical because they use it as a way to find out what else they can do to better improve their lives and just to find out that everything is okay. If you can start to think of it this way, you’ll stop putting off your annual physical every year.


Some people debate whether or not we still need to have an annual physical, or if it’s simply just another way for the doctor to make money, because after all, the doctor has probably seen you enough already in the last year to know if something was wrong, right?

Wrong. Even if you’ve been at your doctor’s a few times in the last year, the doctor could still easily miss something that’s very important because the things that are checked during a normal physical aren’t checked in a routine office visit, and since the doctor’s attention is turned to some other problem you’re having and trying to diagnose it and treat it, he’s not easily able to be as tuned in to checking you from head to toe and could easily miss something. In a physical exam, the doctor’s attention is one hundred percent focused to you alone and to reviewing all of your past and present health.

No two doctors give physicals the exact same way: some are fast while others are slower and methodical. For the most part though, they generally cover the same things.

Your medical history. Use this time to review past history as well, and also a great time to tell the doctor about any concerns, questions, or complaints you have. The doctor will also probably give you a little quiz to see if anything significant has happened since you had your last physical, such as if started smoking, became pregnant, gained 10 pounds, etc. The doctor will also double check all of your prior vaccinations and update any history.
Vital signs are always checked. The most commonly checked vital signs include;
   a. Blood Pressure
   b. Heart Rate
   c. Respiration Rate
   d. Temperature

Your doctor also learns a lot by your appearance, and what you say or do. Additionally, he will do thing like listen to your heart, give you a lung exam possibly, a head and neck exam to check your throat, mouth, and ears, and an abdominal exam to determine liver size, look for abdominal fluid, and listen to bowel sounds.

If other concerns are addressed, you may have to visit another specialist about any areas that your doctor isn’t especially trained in.

Although you may dread the appointment, remember that it’s a way of taking care of things before something goes wrong, and will educate you about things you should know about to have a better quality of life. If you don’t have health insurance and you need to look into a policy, talk to your insurance agent to determine what the best policy is for you.

Post author Loren Pleet