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Importance of Getting an Annual Physical

It is important to get an annual physical exam from your primary care doctor, even if you don’t feel sick.

Why do I need an annual physical if I feel perfectly fine? What occurs at an annual physical? How should I prepare for my annual physical exam?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is important to get an annual physical exam from your primary care doctor, even if you don’t feel sick, as it provides an opportunity to check in on your overall health, address any health concerns you may have, talk about preventive strategies, and forge a relationship with your primary care provider which may come in handy when something is wrong.

What a doctor does at an annual exam will vary based on the person’s health, age, and gender, but typically the following areas are included:

  • Vital signs – weight, height, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate
  • Health history – questions related to every system in your body and if any changes have occurred
  • Physical exam – heart, lung, abdominal, extremities
  • Laboratory tests – cholesterol, blood sugar, blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis
  • Screening tests – may differ between men and women
  • Questions related to family history, substance use, healthy and unhealthy habits, and general life updates

Answering your primary care provider’s questions honestly, even when it’s difficult to do so, is crucial for accurate early diagnosis and proper treatment. Information you share with your provider is confidential. Remember, your healthcare provider’s job is to partner with you in maintaining your health and wellness but they need honest, accurate information in order to do so.

Once your annual exam has been scheduled, there are some simple steps you can take in preparation to ensure the most effective and efficient use of your and your provider’s time.

  • Make a list of all of your current medications and dosing, including over-the-counter medications or supplements.
  • Document symptoms of possible health issues you may be having.
  • Catalog your medical history including new diagnoses, vaccines, surgeries, or changes.
  • List known allergies.
  • Write down questions you have for your provider so you don’t forget.
  • Bring any additional health data such as food trackers, blood pressure charts, or anything else health related you track.

After your annual exam has been completed, your provider may give guidance and suggestions related to any issues you may be experiencing, set forth health-related goals and expectations, discuss newly prescribed medications, recommend vaccines, labs, or referrals if necessary, and set up your next appointment.

No matter what your age, getting an annual physical exam is important to staying healthy. Its purpose is to detect any health issues you may have before they become serious and difficult to treat.

If you are looking for a trusted primary care provider to perform your next annual exam, Bluestem Health would be honored to work with you at one of our six convenient locations. We are a client-driven, culturally sensitive, and family-focused healthcare organization that offers integrated and comprehensive healthcare services. Click to find a Bluestem Health clinic near you. We look forward to meeting you!

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