If you eat well and exercise regularly, you may be wondering why a physical is so important.
Physical exams create a baseline medical history for your health and are an opportunity to catch a problem before it progresses too far.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of a physical examination.
What Happens during a Physical?
During a physical, a doctor takes a look at your family health history and assess your physical health by taking vital signs and performing routine screenings.
For those with a particular family history of some illnesses, there may be more specific tests to look for the signs of those diseases manifesting.
Typically, the doctor will perform an exam that looks for abnormalities or signs of disease in the following areas: musculoskeletal system (such as joints), abdomen, your skin, your cardiovascular health, vision, and speech and other cognitive functions.
Often this involves the doctor palpating your abdomen and moving your limbs to test your reflexes and range of motion.
The doctor will listen to your heart and lungs to note any issues. Laboratory tests will be performed and may include: cholesterol checks, thyroid levels, a complete blood count, and a metabolic panel.
These tests can often point to areas of concern, which may prompt the need for more testing or lifestyle changes.
Patients over the age of 40 may require different tests, including colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer, lung cancer screenings for smokers, and an evaluation for vaccinations.
Those with risk factors may need STI testing, diabetes screenings, and mental health screenings
Testing Unique to Each Gender
Depending on your gender and age, other tests may be indicated. Women over the age of 40 need mammograms, although the frequency depends on their individual risk factors.
Pap smears, breast exams, pelvic exams, and discussions about the prevention of osteoporosis may need to be done.
For men, prostate cancer screenings, testicular health evaluations, and screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms may be necessary.
Your doctor will recommend these based on your age, lifestyle, and other risk factors, such as family history.