TrustCare | The Importance of Annual Physicals

The Importance of Annual Physicals

in Walk-In Urgent Care Wellness Checks

Young or old, annual physicals are essential to your lifelong health.

Some people only prioritize visiting the doctor once they get sick or have symptoms. We’re here to explain the importance of annual physicals and why they deserve a permanent spot on your calendar.

An annual physical is not a sick visit – it’s an exam that takes place when you are feeling well. It’s also a perfect opportunity to connect with your doctor, check for potential health issues (especially symptom-free ones), set goals for the coming year, and so much more.

Let’s get started!

Building a Relationship with Your Doctor

All good relationships begin by getting to know each other. An annual physical is an ideal way to get to know your primary care doctor – and to allow your doctor to get to know you.

Your doctor will take a complete medical history to learn about you and your lifestyle, followed by a physical exam to evaluate your current health. Your doctor will also answer your questions about medications, treatments, and other health concerns.

Although you may see a doctor at other times during the year for minor illnesses and injuries, those visits usually focus on treating a specific problem. During an annual physical, the focus is on your overall wellness and the preventative care you need to stay healthy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 40% of premature deaths in the United States are preventable, including those caused by heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Annual physicals establish a long-term connection between doctor and patient, helping you become more aware (and stay aware) of your health risks.

Keeping Your Medical Records Current

A lot can change in a year. Your annual physical is the time to let your doctor know about any changes that could affect your health, such as:

  • Medication changes
  • Family history (especially if someone in your family has developed a new condition)
  • Lifestyle changes (including smoking/drinking habits and sexual activity)
  • New allergic reactions

Screening for Hidden Health Issues

Screenings are another major part of preventative care. Depending on your age, family history, and other risk factors, your doctor may order several screenings during your annual physical, including:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood glucose
  • Body mass index (BMI)

Screenings like these can help detect underlying health conditions (such as heart disease and diabetes), even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. Based on the results, your doctor may make recommendations for follow-up testing and suggest diet and/or exercise changes to improve your health.

Cancer screenings can also detect cancer in the earliest stages when it’s most treatable. Your doctor may advise you to screen for breast cancer (mammogram), cervical cancer (pap smear), colon cancer (colonoscopy), skin cancer (skin exam), or other types of cancer.

Updating Your Vaccines

Vaccines are powerful tools for preventing or reducing the severity of infectious diseases. And they aren’t just for kids – adults need to keep their vaccines updated, too.

Your doctor will review your vaccination history during your annual exam and recommend any immunizations you need, such as:

  • COVID-19: The CDC recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. Updated boosters are also available.
  • Flu: Flu shots are recommended yearly for most people six months of age and older before flu season (which typically lasts from October to May and peaks in February). Even getting the flu shot late is better than no shot at all.
  • Tdap: Tdap is a combination vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Adults should get a booster every 10 years, and pregnant women should get the vaccine with each pregnancy to protect their newborns.
  • MMR: This combination vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Varicella: This vaccine is primarily used to prevent chickenpox, a contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.
  • Hepatitis A and B: Hepatitis A and B are the same disease (inflammation of the liver) but are caused by two separate strains of the hepatitis virus.
  • HPV: The HPV vaccine, which is recommended for children ages 11-12, protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus. The CDC now recommends a catch-up HPV vaccine for all men and women up to age 26.

Setting Health Goals

Staying healthy is a team effort between you and your doctor – and an annual physical is a vital part of making that happen. Want to lose weight? Lower your cholesterol? Train for a marathon? Your annual physical is an excellent time to discuss your health goals and make a plan with your doctor.

What to Expect During Your Exam

First, your doctor will review your height, weight, blood pressure, and flexibility. Annual physicals are designed to evaluate every organ system in your body, so your doctor will also:

  • Listen to your heart and lungs
  • Look inside your ears and mouth
  • Feel the lymph nodes in your neck
  • Feel your abdomen to check the location and size of your organs
  • Examine your skin
  • Perform a breast and pelvic exam or a genital and prostate exam (depending on your age and gender)

Your doctor may also perform additional tests, such as:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Stress test
  • Lipid panel
  • Urinalysis

Once the exam is complete, your doctor will let you know if you’re in good health or if there are potential concerns, if you need to see a specialist, and what steps you can take to improve your health or stay on the right track.

More Than a Physical: TrustCare Offers Personalized Assessments

At TrustCare, we want your annual physical to be as personal as possible – that’s why we take the time to discuss your health concerns and create a personalized assessment that outlines your best path forward. Your health is as important to us as it is to you.

TrustCare offers walk-in urgent care, primary care, telehealth, pediatric primary care (TrustCare Kids), and more. To schedule your annual physical or learn about our other services, find a TrustCare location today.

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