Physical exams are also known as preventative visits. For a relatively healthy adult, these should take place once a year. Chronic or unexpected conditions will require additional visits to your doctor. These exams are a head-to-toe comprehensive exam to maintain your optimal health. Physical exams vary according to an array of factors including age, overall health, and any extenuating conditions.
For children, these will include measurements of height and weight as well as administering school immunizations. The child’s school performance and developmental progress are often discussed at this time. These appointments allow for your doctor to screen for medical or psychosocial concerns as well as educate you and your child on healthy life practices.
Adult exams may include things such as routine blood work to monitor thyroid issues, diabetes, cholesterol, and cancer screenings are commonly part of this visit. Several important factors are assessed by your primary care physician including:
Blood pressure: provides information on heart health which can help detect conditions like heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots. Average adult blood pressure stands around 120/80. High blood pressure is defined as anything 130 over 80 or higher.
Pulse: also a determinant in heart health, your doctor will listen to your heartbeat with a stethoscope. According to if your pulse is too fast or too slow, you may be referred to a cardiologist.
Body temperature: temperature spikes can indicate infections or decreased immune system. Your doctor will measure your temperature with a standard thermometer, average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Respiratory rate: referring to the rate of breaths per minute, this can help indicate cardiovascular or pulmonary issues. 12 to 16 breaths per minute are average for an adult. Anything over 20 may indicate an issue.
Your physician will also perform a visual exam for your general appearance to look for any obvious indicators of any ailments. A physical exam of the head and neck is also done to look at structures like the lymph nodes, ears, nose, eyes, teeth, and tonsils. All of which can be indicators of overall health.
Often discussed in these appointments are your individual and family medical histories. Frequency of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, or stroke can all be factors in your overall health. Discussing your lifestyle with your doctor is extremely important to help maintain your health. Disclosing information on things such as tobacco and alcohol use, sleeping patterns, diet, and exercise assist your doctor in making the correct medical choices for you. Also known as Well-Adult exams, these help predict and identify any conditions that might arise and work to combat these.
To prepare for your wellness physical exam, make sure to compile a list of medications you are currently taking, any physical changes in your body, or any problematic, unexplained symptoms you may have experienced.