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For some people, having an annual physical examination is a source of reassurance that they're as healthy as they feel. Others see it as an alarm system, to catch health problems before they become serious.
Annual Physical Exam: The Basics
The physical exam is an essential part of any doctor's visit. Surprisingly, though, there are no absolutes in a routine physical. A good doctor may be thorough or brief, according to your individual circumstances, any new medical concerns you may have, and his or her personal style. A good doctor will spend time listening to your concerns and providing counseling for your particular needs.
This is your chance to mention any complaints or concerns about your health. Your doctor will also likely quiz you about important behaviors, like smoking, excessive alcohol use, sexual health, diet, and exercise, The doctor will also check on your vaccination status and update your personal and family medical history.
Your doctor gathers a large amount of information about you and your health just by watching and talking to you. How is your memory and mental quickness? Does your skin appear healthy? Can you easily stand and walk?
Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, a doctor might detect an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.
Using a stethoscope, a doctor listens for crackles, wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the presence of heart or lung disease.
Head and Neck Exam
Opening up and saying "ah" shows off your throat and tonsils. The quality of your teeth and gums also provides information about your overall health. Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries may also be examined.
Your doctor can use a range of examination techniques including tapping your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal fluid, listening for bowel sounds with a stethoscope, and palpating for tenderness.
Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and mental state may be assessed.
Skin and nail findings could indicate a dermatological problem or disease somewhere else in the body.
Your doctor will look for physical and sensory changes. Pulses can be checked in your arms and legs. Examining joints can assess for abnormalities.
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Primary Care of Southwest Georgia-Blakely is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 254b, and a deemed Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n)