An annual physical exam is a medical exam designed to verify health and check for potential medical issues. A physical exam is usually done at the same time each year and is often done on healthy patients.
Patients may need annual physical exams for a variety of different reasons. Many people need a physical exam before they begin a new job, and then need to follow up with yearly physicals. Children may need to have an annual physical exam prior to starting a new school year, or before they can participate in team sports activities. Insurance companies may require their policy holders to have annual physicals. Many people have an annual physical simply to check their overall health and to see if there have been any health changes in the last year that need to be addressed.
Patients can prepare for an annual physical exam by gathering all of their current medications and creating a list. Prescription and non-prescription drugs should both be included on the list, and it is also best to list herbal remedies and supplements since they can interact with other substances. Patients should check with the doctor's office prior to the exam to be sure that no other preparation is needed.
The doctor will take notes on medical history and will discuss overall health with the patient. Height and weight will be measured. The temperature will be taken, pulse will be checked, and blood pressure will be taken. The doctor will evaluate heartbeat via a stethoscope. Patients will be asked to breathe in and out evenly so the doctor can evaluate lung function. The doctor will also evaluate the throat, tonsils, ears, lymph nodes, and nose in most annual physicals. The abdominal area may also be evaluated for signs of trouble like swelling. If the patient needs to have any vaccinations, they are often administered during the exam.
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