A physical is a visit with your Primary Care Provider (PCP) to check your overall health and make sure you don’t have any medical problems that you are unaware of. It is important that you tell your PCP about any medications you are currently taking, or have taken in the past. Having these visits help you and your PCP come up with a care plan for a longer, healthier life.
Physical exams are routine tests your PCP performs to check your overall health. Your PCP may be a doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant. You don’t have to be sick to request an exam.
Depending on your age or medical or family history, your PCP may recommend additional testing to be performed during your visit.
Why Are Physicals Performed?
Physicals are used to:
- Detect any possible diseases in order to treat them early
- Identify health problems before they become serious
- Update necessary immunizations
- Ensure that you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Build a relationship with your PCP
These visits are also helpful in checking your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels since these levels may be high without you ever showing signs or symptoms.
How Often Should I Have A Physical?
In most cases, Physical exams are recommended at least once a year, especially in patients over the age of 50 years old and those who are at risk for certain diseases because of their family history. Physical exams may be performed before a surgery or prior to starting a treatment for a medical condition. If you feel you are healthy and don’t need an annual physical, talk to your PCP and ask what he/she recommends.
How Should I Prepare For My Physical?
In order to get the most out of your physical, come prepared for your visit, by gathering the following before your appointment:
- List of current medications you are taking, including over-the- counter drugs and any herbal supplements
- List of any symptoms or pain you are experiencing
- List any changes in your body, including lumps or skin changes
- List any signs of depression, anxiety, trauma or distress, or trouble sleeping
- Any recent or relevant results from tests
- Medical and surgical history
- Names and contact information for other doctors involved in your care
- A list of any additional questions you would like answered
You may want to dress in comfortable clothing and avoid any excess jewelry, makeup, or other things that will prevent your PCP from performing a full body examination.
What Should I Expect At My Physical?
Before meeting with your PCP, a nurse or medical assistant will ask you a series of questions regarding your medical history and lifestyle.
Your PCP will then begin the exam by inspecting your body for any unusual marks or growths. This will consist of several tests performed to inspect your overall body and organs.
During your physical, your height, weight, and pulse will be checked.
It is important that you communicate with our PCP if you have any concerns since your physical is considered private time set up to ask any health-related questions. You may always contact your PCP when needed, but consider this time a good time to bring up any questions or concerns. Help ensure that you are receiving the best guidance by providing honest, up-to- date, and accurate information since what you say plays a large role in the plan your PCP will develop for you.