The Importance of an Annual Physical Exam
Annual physical exams are a vital part of a preventative illness measure taken to ensure a long and healthy life for you and your family. Parents often make certain their children receive an annual exam, however exams become increasingly important into adulthood. Nothing can replace the importance of daily exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, but health
professionals can use an annual exam to keep abreast of signs and symptoms that could lead to a
serious illness. During these exams, your doctor will ask about your family history and note your vital signs including your blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and temperature. According to most medical professionals these are typical exams you may experience at your annual exam:
General Appearance: 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?
Heart Exam: Listening to your heart with a stethoscope, a doctor might detect an
irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.
Lung Exam: 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
are also examined.
Abdominal Exam: 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.
Neurological Exam: Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance, and mental state
Dermatological Exam: Skin and nail findings could indicate a dermatological
problem or disease somewhere else in the body.
Extremities Exam: Your doctor will look for physical and sensory changes. Pulses
can be checked in your arms and legs. Examining joints can assess for abnormalities.