Do you get your annual physical? Do you know why it’s important to get your annual physical? Do you make sure that your kids get annual physicals? It is important to have an annual physical because it helps to ensure that you are healthy and catch any potential problems early. Your annual physical will usually include a general check-up, blood pressure check, weight and height measurement, and sometimes a urine test. Your doctor may also ask about your family medical history and lifestyle habits. This information helps them to assess your risk of developing certain health conditions. Annual physicals are important because they can help to detect problems early on, when they are more easily treatable. They can also help you to make lifestyle changes that may improve your overall health.
Here’s five reasons your annual physical is important.
- To catch problems early! Many health problems, including some serious ones, can develop without causing any symptoms. An annual physical allows your doctor to screen for these conditions and identify them early, when they’re most treatable.
- To update your vaccinations: Vaccinations help protect you from infections and other diseases. Depending on your age, health condition, and lifestyle, you may need different vaccines at different times in your life. Your doctor can recommend the appropriate vaccinations for you during your annual physical.
- To monitor chronic conditions: If you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, an annual physical is an opportunity for your doctor to check how well it’s being controlled and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
- To assess your risk factors for disease: During your annual physical, your doctor will ask about things like family history, smoking habits, diet, and exercise routine. This information helps identify which diseases or conditions you may be at higher risk for so that steps can be taken to prevent them or detect them early.
- To establish a relationship with a healthcare provider: Having an ongoing relationship with a primary care physician promotes better overall health and wellness. When you see the same doctor year after year, he or she gets to know you well and can provide more personalized care.
Now that you know why your annual physical is important, here’s four ways you can prepare for it:
- Know Your Family History. Before you even see the doctor, it's important to know your family history. This will give your doctor a better idea of what tests and screenings you may need. It's also important to know if there's any history of serious illnesses or conditions that could be passed down to you. If you're not sure about your family history, now is the time to ask relatives what they know. This will also give you a good idea of what is genetically transmissible and what isn’t.
- Make a List of Questions and Concerns. Once you have your appointment scheduled, start making a list of questions and concerns you want to discuss with the doctor. This way, you won't forget anything when you're actually in the exam room. You might want to ask about new developments in treatments for conditions that run in your family or whether there are any preventive measures you should be taking based on your age and health status. Don’t hesitate to ask anything, even if it feels uncomfortable or over-cautious. Since these appointments aren’t too often they should feel fully comprehensive for you!
- Get All Your Paperwork In Order. In order to make the most of your time with the doctor, get all of your paperwork in order before the appointment. This includes things like copies of previous lab results, lists of current medications and supplements, and immunization records. Having everything organized ahead of time will help the doctor get a clear picture of your overall health so they can focus on specific areas during the physical exam itself. Don’t hesitate to call beforehand and confirm which paperwork is necessary for your physical.
- Bring Along A Support Person. Physicals aren’t usually difficult or stressful but they can be or they can just be full of information. It can help to bring someone who ares about you with you, not only as a support system but also as another pair of ears. They could take notes on what the doctor is saying so you can listen more directly.
You may put off going to the dentist, but your annual physical should not be pushed under the rug. And it’s not just for old people! If you’re a parent, making sure your child has an annual physical is just as important. Not only for their health, but also because it will get them into the habit of getting a yearly physical!