Annual physical exams are a routine part of life for millions of Americans, but not everyone is convinced that they are important throughout life. A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that while 92% of people in the U.S. agree that annual exams are important, only 62% of them actually report getting them. A separate study shows about 44 million people getting exams, and the number should be higher, as these exams are beneficial to everyone for a variety of reasons throughout their lives.
To better understand why annual physicals are so important, let’s take a look at why we get them, what you expect from them, and how our physical needs change as we age.
Residents of the Westminster, Colorado, area in need of a physical exam can benefit from the expert care of Drs. Clifton Etienne, Michael Cavanagh, Flora Brewington and the medical team at Westmed Family Healthcare. Our compassionate and skilled team offers diagnostic and treatment options for the whole family.
Why do we get physical exams?
Also referred to as a wellness check, physical exams are a series of in-person tests and lab screenings designed to gauge your overall health and check for evidence of diseases and other conditions that may affect you in the future. This often includes immunizations, sexually transmitted disease (STD) screenings, blood tests, blood pressure tests, and other things to get a complete picture of your health based on personal history, family history, and any recent issues with injuries or diseases. You may also get exams just before an operation, to test for specific conditions, or to check up on treatment for a condition.
What should you expect from yours?
We will need to gather information about your current medications, as well as your personal and family medical history, before any exam begins. This will give us important information about any recent relevant tests, contact information on any doctors you have seen recently, surgical history, family planning, and any supplements you may be taking.
Once that’s covered you can expect many of the tests mentioned above and others, including:
- Pap smears
- Pelvic exam
- Osteoporosis screening
- Prostate cancer screening
- Testicular exam
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screening
- Cholesterol screenings
- Colon cancer test
- Diabetes screening
- Depression screening
- Blood pressure screening
One of the vital needs physical exams provide is getting screenings for possible diseases and other conditions that can develop as you get older, which is why changes in diet and exercise are often part of the takeaway from these checkups. The types of tests will change as you get older.
How do our needs change over our lifetime?
Throughout our lives we will need exams to cater to different needs:
Often as we’re growing up, these can help to treat childhood diseases, check your physical fitness to get into sports, or to make sure you are well enough to attend school.
As adults, our bodies continue to change and it will become necessary to be mindful of the risks of different conditions and diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For women, there is also the need to be mindful of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and other issues that women deal with more frequently than men, such as urinary tract infections.
As we age, our hormones and metabolisms slow down, creating yet more changes that will need exams. This is especially important for women post-menopause because of the numerous changes their bodies go through, along with the severe hormonal drop. Men’s bodies also deal with changes affecting bone density, cardiovascular condition, and increased risk of colorectal cancer and diabetes.
There is always a good reason to see your doctor when you have concerns, but an annual physical is important at all stages of life. So, when you’re ready to get your physical, make an appointment with Drs. Etienne, Cavanaugh, Brewington, and the team at Westmed Family Healthcare today.