One of the most crucial aspects of staying healthy is preventative healthcare measures. Annual health check-ups and exams are one of the best steps that individuals can take to keep track of the common health metrics such as bloodwork levels.
Depending on the age of the patient, there are several additional tests and procedures that become part of the annual exam. Taking the right steps in your everyday health with eating right, getting exercise, etc. are important, but so is seeing your doctor annually to determine your baseline of health. What some patients do not realize is that many serious conditions and diseases can be caught through the consistent appointments of annual check-ups. The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed overview of what to expect from an annual physical exam.
Annual Physical Exam Checklist
For the most part, there is a universal baseline checklist that is followed for all annual physical exams. Depending on family history, recent medical developments or certain ages, there is a set of routine tests and checks that your doctor will perform.
For the women’s annual exam, there are some additional components that are sex-specific that would be different from the men’s annual physical exam checklist.
The major components of a routine physical for women include:
- Medical History – this preliminary component to the exam includes disclosing any new medications, any changes to your or family members’ health, any diet or indulgent changes, sexual history, etc. This helps your doctor understand if there are any warning signs or causes for concern that have developed since the last visit.
- Vital Signs – your doctor will check your heart rate (pulse), measure blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and temperature. These are all recorded and compared against accepted standards/ranges and can oftentimes indicate health problems like infection or much more serious issues.
- Heart and Lungs – your doctor will then check on your heart and lungs using a stethoscope to listen to the heart rhythm and breathing through the back and chest. Irregular heart rhythms, murmurs, or breathing sounds can be symptoms of underlying concerns.
- Head, Neck, and Abdomen – this part of the exam is used to check for any sensitive areas or abnormalities in these regions. Lymph nodes, muscles, and organs are carefully checked out for common issues that can arise.
- Neurological – reflexes are tested to ensure that the nervous system is still functioning correctly with the little mallet at the different joint locations. Especially with age, the nervous system malfunctions can point to potentially severe conditions.
- Blood Test – your doctor will order complete bloodwork analysis to be done at the annual exam, and this is done to check on things such as cholesterol, blood sugar, kidney/liver function, etc. These are compared to the numbers from the previous year and accepted standards.
- Prevention of Infection – whether this is for STI concerns or illnesses such as the flu; controlling the progression and spread of infections is an important part of the annual physical exam.
- Cancer Screening – after evaluating everything from family history to the basic components of the exam, certain cancer risks may be evident. For women, a pap smear is conducted to test for cervical cancer, and mammogram to screen for breast cancer. For men, a prostate exam is conducted after a certain age to check the condition of the prostate.
- Menopause (women) – another age-specific component to the annual physical is to determine which stage of menopause you’re in or when menopause may start for you.
While these are the common components to a routine physical, each patient’s exact exam will be different depending on their individual medical needs.
The Cost of an Annual Physical Examination
There may be some questions left unanswered regarding the financial aspects of annual physical exams, including:
- Does Medicare cover annual physicals?
The answer is no, but if it is labeled as and meets the “Medicare annual wellness visit” requirements, patients do not pay for them.
- What is the annual check-up cost without insurance?
Depending on the scope of the annual check-up, the cost without insurance can range anywhere from $100 to close to $1,000.
The annual check-up exams or physicals should be taken very seriously and be scheduled every year. Preventative medicine and speaking with your doctor about any concerns, no matter how small they may seem, can diagnose serious problems in the early stages and save your life.
Dr. Andrew Krinsky has been committed to improving women’s health in South Florida and if you’ve been searching for a new OB/GYN in the Fort Lauderdale area, Dr. Krinsky is the best in town. Reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment.