The Annual Physical Exam is an American tradition that dates back to the 1920’s.  This yearly physical  has many benefits, the most important of which is the early detection of disease including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  These illnesses can be present for years before they cause any symptoms.  Finding and treating them early can save your life.  Another reason to have your Annual Physical Exam, even when you’re feeling healthy, is to develop an ongoing relationship with your physician.  If you do happen to get sick, it is better to be treated by a physician who knows you and your medical history.

What you should expect from your Annual Physical Exam
For an adult, the Annual Physical Exam will include a review of your current medications and a discussion about your family and social history.  Your medical history will also be reviewed, including previous diagnosis, surgical history, hospitalizations and allergies to medications.  At every Annual Physical Exam, your physician will review all body systems as well as perform a complete examination of these systems.  The physical exam should be preceded by a comprehensive blood analysis to assess liver, kidney and thyroid function and to check for diabetes, high cholesterol and anemia, among other disorders.   Every Annual Physical Exam will include an Electrocardiogram (EKG) and audiometry (hearing test).   This is the time to review your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and other supplements you are currently taking.  While over the counter medications or supplements may have benefits or provide symptom relief, some may induce detrimental side effects and interactions.   Come prepared with a list of your current medications, questions and concerns and discuss them with your physicians.

In Your 20’s/30’s
The Annual Physical Exam for both sexes will check for the presence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  This is also your opportunity to discuss lifestyle changes such as smoking, exercise and diet. In addition to the comprehensive physical exam, Emerald’s proficient and caring Physician’s Assistant/Nurse Practitioners are available for gynecological exams and nutritional counseling.

In Your 40’s/50’s
Men and women should have their Annual Physical Exam to detect such conditions as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, arthritis and any behavioral changes due to early memory loss or mood disorders.   Discuss with your physician the recommendations for colorectal cancer screening (colonoscopy) and for women, breast cancer screening (mammogram).  Men should have an annual PSA blood test to help detect prostate cancer.

In Your 60’s
Women who are past menopause are at increased risk for osteoporosis and should discuss a bone density test with their health care provider.  It is also important to review your current medications for their effectiveness and possible side effects and interactions.

In Your 70’s and 80’s
At this age it is important to have an annual physical exam to screen for illnesses and conditions that, if caught early, may be treatable.  This will  result in far fewer  serious health consequences.  The Annual Physical Exam also includes health education and counseling, referrals to specialists (if needed), vaccine administration and diabetes self-management.