Health Matters | The Importance of a Physical Exam

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The Importance of a Physical Exam

When was the last time that you went to your primary care doctor for a check-up? Has it been less than a year? More than two years? Maybe you can’t remember the last time you had a physical. Periodic physical exams are important and should be part of everyone’s health care. A physical exam can help to determine if you are as healthy as you feel or catch health problems before they become serious. A check-up also helps you and your primary care doctor come up with a care plan for a longer, healthier life. If you experience trouble getting an appointment with your primary care physician, many urgent care providers are equipped to perform routine physicals and can send your records along to your primary care physician. Remember these tips the next time you visit your health care provider:

Family History
Tell your doctor about any medical conditions or diseases within your family. It’s no secret that certain diseases and medical conditions can be hereditary; however, families also pass on lifestyle habits. People who live together, play together, and eat together influence each other’s attitudes toward smoking, exercise, weight, and a host of other factors that influence our health.

Your health care provider can assess your risk of disease based on a combination of family history and other factors. He or she may recommend changes like regular exercise or a healthier diet to reduce those health risks. The physician may also suggest certain screening tests to help detect potential problems.

Health tests, screenings, and vaccinations
The need for certain health screenings, tests, and vaccinations can be based on your age, general health, family history, and lifestyle. Ask your health care provider if it’s time for any vaccinations or screenings. Some tests have certain requirements in order to be effective. Having this information ahead of time can help reduce your number of trips to the doctor’s office and make sure you get the most from each visit.

Make a List
Prepare a list of existing health problems and note any changes:
  • Have you noticed any changes in your body, including lumps or skin changes?
  • Do you have any pain, dizziness, fatigue, urinary or digestive track problems?
  • Have your eating habits changed?
  • Are you experiencing signs of depression, anxiety, trauma, or distress?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping?

Write down a list of any changes in your health or habits so you don’t forget them. Note how it’s different from before, when the change occurred, and any other observations that you think might be helpful. Also, take notes on what your provider recommends.

Be Honest
Your health care provider relies on you to tell the truth. He or she will develop a health care and treatment plan based partly on what you say. Help ensure you get the best guidance by providing the most up-to-date and accurate information possible.

Set Healthy Goals
What specific health issues do you need to tackle? Are you thinking about losing weight, quitting smoking, or having another child? Set goals to improve your health and lifestyle. Discuss these issues and any health goals with your health care provider so that you can make the best decisions and plans regarding your health and safety.

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