How do you keep yourself in good health? Whatever your answer, one component that everyone should include is a regular physical exam.
A physical serves as an essential part of preventive health care and it also gives you a chance to ask your doctor about any health concerns you might have.
While every doctor’s routine varies a little, there are a few standard areas your doctor should cover during a physical exam. Here’s what should be included in your next physical, courtesy of the team at Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Elements of a physical
Physical exams are important to assess the current state of your health. You should have a physical about once a year; you may also occasionally need one for a job or to play on a sports team. (In those cases, make sure to bring the correct form if you need one signed.)
All physicals include questions about not only your health but your family’s health history, so it’s helpful to research that information ahead of time. You should also come with a list of any medications you take, along with any previous medical procedures you’ve undergone.
Your provider starts by measuring your vital signs — including your weight, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate — evaluates your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and listens to your heart and lungs.
They also palpate (touch) your abdomen and other parts of your body to check organ size and shape and look for anything unusual or out of place, such as a lump or an irregular growth on your skin.
If your provider’s questions or observations uncover any potential problem areas, they may recommend testing. Treatment is almost always more effective when a disease or other issue is caught in the early stages.
Your doctor may order specific tests based on something they found or observed, or they may just conduct general screenings, such as blood tests to check for pathogens and proper body functions, a urine sample to check kidney health, and a stool sample to check colon health.
Other tests, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, may be recommended depending on your age and family history.
The exam is also a great chance to build a relationship with your doctor. The better you know each other, and the more they know about you and your health, the greater your chances of staying healthy for longer.
If you’re overdue for your physical, the expert team of providers at Arlington Family Practice is happy to help you get back on track. Just call our office to schedule a visit, or fill out the convenient appointment request form on our website.