An annual physical exam by your family doctor is recommended even if a person is healthy. These visits include a number of tests and observations to help screen for diseases, determine potential health risks and to encourage healthier living.
During a yearly physical the doctor will take a number of measurements of vital signs and important factors that potentially affect the health of the patient. These initial measurements include weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. The doctor also will ask the patient about any health problems he is experiencing.
Typical yearly physicals include a heart exam and lung exam done by stethoscope, head and neck exams, abdominal exams, reflex test, skin exam, and an examination of the arms, legs and joints.
Gender Specific Testing
Women may be given a breast exam and pelvic exam to check for signs of cancer. Men may be given a testicular exam, penis exam and prostate exam and be tested for a hernia.
You may or may not have laboratory testing during a routine physical, depending on your potential risk factors. These tests may include drawing blood for complete blood count or a chemistry panel, or it may require a urine sample for analysis.
Depending on the particular patient, a doctor will focus on prevention. The patient is given advice on how to best prevent certain diseases or conditions, according to the risks involved for that patient. For example, women over 40 years will often begin getting annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer, while men age 50 and older will begin colorectal cancer screenings.
To better assess a patient's risks and fully understand the patient's current health situation, a doctor will take a medical history. This process includes a series of questions about what, if any, problems the patient has been experiencing, what diseases are common in the family, and if a patient smokes, drinks excessively, has allergies, among other questions.