Most of us don’t look forward to doctor’s appointments. However, having an annual physical exam is an important way to stay healthy and it’s a great time to develop a relationship with your physician.
Elyssa Blissenback, MD, and Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, recommend an annual physical exam for all of their patients at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine. During your annual physical, we discuss your medical history, any new symptoms or issues you’re experiencing, and talk to you about recommended screenings for your age. In this post, we discuss what you should expect at this important appointment.
One of the first things you can expect is to have your vital signs taken and recorded. We take your blood pressure, your temperature, your heart rate, and the rate you’re breathing. We may also check the amount of oxygen in your blood.
All of these are measures of your body’s basic functions. The first time you come in for an annual physical we use them to create a baseline measurement for you. Then with each successive annual exam, we can compare your current vital signs with the baseline.
We will also note your weight and height. Though these aren’t vital signs, they’re still important in creating a baseline for comparison. Your provider will also listen to your heartbeat and your lungs.
During your annual physical, you should expect to have blood drawn. Your provider will look at your vitamin levels, as well as many other indicators. If you’re having specific problems, your provider may order specific blood tests to diagnose any issues.
Your provider will also talk to you about your medical history, and any symptoms you have, or anything that has changed since your previous annual physical exam. During the conversation, the provider also visually examines you.
A great deal of information about your health is available in your general appearance. How your skin looks, how you walk and talk, and your memory and mental quickness can all indicate good health or potential problems.
You should also expect your doctor to touch you in various places, like your abdomen. They may palpate — push, squeeze, or tap — your abdomen to check for the presence of abdominal fluid or tenderness.
Your provider may also test your reflexes by tapping you in certain spots. They may also feel your joints and test your muscle strength.
Another important part of your annual physical is making sure that you’re undergoing the appropriate health screenings at the right times. Screenings are responsible for improving outcomes in many conditions. For example, the five-year-survival rate for prostate cancer that is detected early is close to 100%.
Vaccinations are important as well, but not something that many people think of outside of childhood. Influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and many other conditions can be successfully avoided with proper and timely vaccination.
If it’s been awhile since your last physical, or if this is a habit you haven’t yet developed, schedule your appointment at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine today. We’re always happy to answer your questions and want to help you live your healthiest life.