physical examWhen was the last time you visited a doctor for a physical? For busy people in Austin physical exams are not necessarily top of the agenda; work, family and friends tend to always come first. However, it’s important that you make your health a priority too, and one way to do that is to have regular physical examinations.

What is a physical exam?

A basic adult physical exam is an opportunity for your doctor to physically examine your health, monitor key vitals and check for underlying health conditions. Physicals tend to address the following areas:

– Your health history (a discussion of any lifestyle changes, medication changes, etc.)
– Vitals (blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate check, weight, etc.)
– Visual problems (to check for any external problems)
– Physical problems (listen to heart and lungs, examine the abdomen, hair, neck, etc.)
– Lab tests (a doctor may draw blood and request tests if anything about the physical seems unusual)

For women, extra tests may include a cervical smear, mammogram, breast exam and pelvic exam. Extra tests for men include prostate and testicular exams and tests to look for cancers. It is also possible to request a travel physical (should be performed before traveling to a new country) sports physical (should be performed annually or before starting a new sport) and sexual health physical (should be performed annually or with each new sexual partner), each of which will require slightly different examinations.

Why is a physical exam so important?

Many life-threatening medical conditions such as cancer or heart disease can go unnoticed in our bodies for years until symptoms begin to show, at which point the condition could have progressed into something much more severe. Whilst you may not notice a change in your health, the exams a doctor performs during a physical can show underlying symptoms. The sooner a health condition is found and diagnosed, the sooner you can receive treatment and get back to good health.

Furthermore, a physical is an opportunity to refocus your attention on your health. For example, if a doctor finds you have high cholesterol levels and advises that your risk of heart attack or stroke is increased, you’ll no doubt be motivated to eat better and exercise more in order to bring your cholesterol down. Prevention is always better than a cure, so by assessing your health regularly you will be more motivated to keep it in check.

How often should I have a physical?

In order to maintain good health and look out for underlying conditions, you should have a physical once each year. Even if you feel physically healthy and were given a clean bill of health at your last physical, you should still continue to have an annual physical just in case something changes.

If you’re looking to book your next physical in Austin just contact us; we provide physical exams to hundreds of patients each year and would love to help you take care of your health.