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Physicals Should Emphasize Prevention

The annual physical exam is a great opportunity to refocus your attention on prevention and screening.

 

Annual exams usually check your:

 

History

This is your chance to mention any complaints or concerns about your health. Your doctor will also likely quiz you about lifestyle behaviors like diet, and exercise. The doctor will also check on your vaccination status and update your personal and family medical history.

 

Vital Signs. 

These are some vital signs checked by your doctor:

  • Blood pressure: Less than 120 over 80 is a normal blood pressure. Doctors define high blood pressure(hypertension) as 140 over 90 or higher.

  • Heart rate: Values between 60 and 100 are considered normal. Many healthy people have heart rates slower than 60, however.

  • Respiration rate: From 12 to 16 breaths per minute is normal for a healthy adult. Breathing more than 20 times per minute can suggest heart or lung problems.

  • Temperature: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the average, but healthy people can have resting temperatures slightly higher or lower.

General Appearance

Your doctor gathers a large amount of information about you and your health just by watching and talking to you. How is your memory and mental quickness? Does your skin appear healthy? Can you easily stand and walk?

 

Heart Exam

Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, a doctor might detect an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.

 

Lung Exam

Using a stethoscope, a doctor listens for crackles, wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the presence of heart or lung disease.

 

Head and Neck Exam

Opening up and saying "ah" shows off your throat and tonsils. The quality of your teeth and gums also provides information about your overall health. Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries may also be examined.

 

Abdominal Exam

Your doctor can use a range of examination techniques including tapping your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal fluid, listening for bowel sounds with a stethoscope, and palpating for tenderness.

 

Neurological Exam

Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and mental state may be assessed.

 

Dermatological Exam

Skin and nail findings could indicate a dermatological problem or disease somewhere else in the body.

 

Extremities Exam

Your doctor will look for physical and sensory changes. Pulses can be checked in your arms and legs. Examining joints can assess for abnormalities.

 

Laboratory Tests

There are no standard laboratory tests during an annual physical. However, some doctors will order certain tests routinely:

  • Complete blood count

  • Chemistry panel

  • Urinalysis (UA)

 

Healthy behaviors work far better than medicine at preventing illness, and don't require a prescription

 

Exercising, keeping a healthy weight, and not smoking are enough to keep most of us in good health, 

 

 

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