Why Should You Get An Annual Physical?

You aren’t having any aches or feeling ill. So why should you schedule an annual physical with your family doctor?

Annual Physical

You aren’t having any aches or feeling ill. So why should you schedule an annual physical with your family doctor?

Most people are of the mindset that if they don’t feel sick or aren’t experiencing pain then they don’t need to see their doctor. Actually, one of the important reasons for seeing your primary care provider annually is to have an opportunity to connect one-to-one, update your health information and family history, and discuss any health issues that you may have but dismissed because you didn’t think they were very important. Your provider – a physician, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant – is trained to manage your health. They know to look for potential medical problems and when treated early on can benefit you in the future.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why an annual physical is important to your overall health and what you can expect.

1. Annual Physical Exam

It’s important to get a regular physical exam so that your doctor can identify any changes from your last exam. During the physical part of the exam, your provider may check the following to get a comprehensive assessment:

  • Vital signs including height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Ear, nose, and throat
  • Body mass index
  • Heart, lung, abdominal, and extremities areas
  • Blood testing to check cholesterol, blood sugar, and other levels that could identify any abnormalities that may lead to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or thyroid disease
  • Breast exam*
  • Prostate exam*

*Depending on your age, your provider may schedule preventive screenings such as a prostate screen or mammogram. Screenings are the best way to detect diseases at early onset.

2. Update Vaccinations

Vaccinations are one of the best ways to protect you against serious illnesses. Based on your age, your provider will review any vaccines that you should receive.

3. Review Health Information and Family History

With each passing year, your health can change and that’s why it is important to update your health information as well as your family’s health history so your primary care provider is aware of any conditions that may place you at a higher risk for those diseases. Things to let your provider know include:

  • Medications you are currently taking as well as any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements, and the dosage of each one
  • Surgeries or procedures you have had that your provider may not know about
  • Changes in lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and alcohol or drug use
  • Mental well-being concerns such as depression, anxiety, or trouble sleeping

Changes in your family history are also important to share with your doctor, including any conditions your parents or siblings may have been diagnosed with that may be hereditary and are not currently part of your medical history.

4. Connect with Your Doctor

Developing a good relationship with your provider may be the most important reason to schedule an annual physical. It provides a great opportunity for you to get to know your doctor and for your doctor to know you better. At your annual visit, you will have time to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have about your health. The more information your doctor has about you (work-life balance can impact your well-being), the better he or she can manage your health through all stages of your life.

Once you schedule your appointment for your annual physical, take some time to list out things you will want to go over with your provider – bring a list of medications, dosing, and over-the-counter meds, and write down symptoms of health concerns you may have had over the past few months or are currently experiencing.

Bluestem Health in Lincoln, Nebraska makes it easy for existing patients to schedule annual physicals online, or you can call 402-476-1455. Don’t put off scheduling an annual appointment because you don’t think it’s needed. Seeing your family medicine provider regularly is the best preventive medicine you can do for yourself.

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Shane Ludwig

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Shane Ludwig, Bluestem Health’s COO since 2014, has been developing a skilled and dedicated team as his role and Bluestem Health has grown.

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