The Importance of the Annual Physical

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Not many of us like visiting the doctor, some even dread it, but unfortunately it is a necessity and should be a regular occurrence in all of our lives. Only visiting the doctor when you are very ill is not a good idea. It is important to visit your physician periodically to ensure all is well, as we do not always understand the symptoms for everything that ails us.

Most physicians recommend a yearly check-up or a physical to avoid some common health issues or to increase the chance of an early diagnosis for certain conditions. However, the frequency and tests performed during the physical may vary between individuals depending on their health, age, gender, lifestyle and family history. For some a physical may only be required every few years, while others may need to visit the doctor twice a year. Based on the above characteristics, your physician should provide advice regarding how often you should be visiting.

Ideally you should have a regular doctor whom you can develop a relationship with. You should feel comfortable with and have confidence in your doctor. Get recommendations from family and friends whom you trust. Don’t be afraid to have consultations with a few physicians before you settle on one. Continuously visiting the same doctor will allow your physician to have all of your records on file and be familiar with you and your personal needs. You are responsible for giving accurate information on your family health history and lifestyle (stress, diet, exercise, etc.) to your physician. It should be properly documented in your chart and the doctor should have it with him for viewing during all appointments. Updates should also be made if required.

Before your appointment it is a good idea to write out a list of concerns, questions or symptoms you have for the doctor, as not to forget any of them while there. With accurate information the doctor will be able to perform the right tests tailored to your specific needs. Among some of the basic criteria examined should be; blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, height, weight and immunization updates. A general systems examination should also be performed (heart, lungs, throat, thyroid, ears, skin, joints etc.) as well as a colorectal screening and an electrocardiogram. Patients with a family history of colon cancer should also have a colonoscopy examination as well. Your doctor should also take the time to talk with you and ensure your general well being. If you feel that anything has been left out do not hesitate to enquire why. Your doctor should always give thorough explanations of his motives.

In addition to this, women should also have a breast examination as well as a pelvic exam, pap smear, mammography screening and a check for bone density to prevent osteoporosis. Women are encouraged to have a mammography screening every two years after they reach the age of 40 and more often if there is any suspicion of cancer.

Men should also have a prostate exam, which can consist of a physical exam or a blood test or both. Additional tests should be done for both sexes if there is an increased health risk due to heredity or any other circumstances.

While all this may sound a bit scary and some procedures may be a bit uncomfortable it is only for your benefit to stay on top of your health. Be knowledgeable and take an active role in your well being. Regular check ups can increase the chances of an early diagnosis, which in turn could potentially save your life!

About The Author:

Kate Richards is a successful author and contributor regarding articles on nutrition and fitness.


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This page was updated on June 2009 and is Copyright © 2003 by Global Com Consulting Inc.