Physicals are an important part of preventive care — identifying and addressing medical issues before they become a problem. A physical exam is a good time for you and your primary care doctor to touch base, update your health information, tweak chronic condition management, and schedule routine tests to ensure you’re in good health. Most primary care doctors perform a physical once a year, but they may do so more frequently if you have one or more conditions that need closer monitoring.
At Lake Family Medicine & Imaging in Sanford, Florida, Dr. Raj Kandavanam and his staff provide routine annual physicals as well as specialized physicals for school, sports, and flight certification. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of getting physical.
What You Can Expect at a Routine Physical
Areas we address at a routine physical include:
It’s important that Dr. Kandavanam gets to know your overall health history so he understands what’s normal for you and when there’s trouble brewing that requires his attention. He asks you questions about changes in your health since your last physical, including all of the medications and supplements you’re taking; your work environment, relationships, and overall stress level; your vaccination status; any new allergies; and any surgeries you may have had.
The team records your height and weight, current temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure. The latter is especially important because high blood pressure can be an early sign of cardiovascular problems.
The Medical Exam
The doctor first notes your appearance, looking for signs that indicate any possible conditions or problems, such as abnormal skin color, skin growths, swellings, and problems with speech or gait.
Next, he performs a hands-on exam that includes:
- Listening to the heart and lungs
- Examining the nose, mouth, throat, and ears
- Feeling for the pulse in the neck, groin, and feet (can indicate circulatory problems)
- Recording an EKG
- Checking reflexes, balance, strength, and posture
- Manipulating joints for range-of-motion
- Palpating the lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, and groin
- Palpating the abdomen for abnormalities
For women, he may perform a pelvic exam and take a Pap smear. For men, he may perform prostate and/or testicular exam that checks for lumps or changes in size. If you’ve come in for a specialty physical, he completes any additional checks.
All routine physicals include blood tests, which can show signs of a problem not yet visible to the eye or hands. The bloodwork usually includes a complete blood count and a complete metabolic panel, the latter of which checks for problems with your kidneys, liver, and heart function; cholesterol levels; vitamin and sugar levels (diabetes); and immune system function.
If any of the results come back too high or too low, the doctor performs follow-up testing and/or sends you to a specialist for further screening and treatment.
In addition, he may refer women to an imaging center to get a mammogram, and men for a PSA test to screen for prostate cancer. Depending on your history, he may also want to screen for depression and colorectal cancer.
Vaccinations aren’t generally part of a routine physical, but the appointment is a good time to follow up with any vaccinations you’ve missed (including your annual flu shot) or to get screened for any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as syphilis and HIV.
Discussing Overall Health Strategies
Since you’re face-to-face with the doctor, the physical is a great time to discuss lifestyle issues such as diet and nutrition, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Dr. Kandavanam can suggest ways to change your habits to increase your overall health. And this is a great time for you to ask questions about any medical concerns you have.
In short, physicals are important. They’re a window into your overall health and a chance to deal with problems while they’re still in their early stages. If you haven’t had a physical in a while and would like to make an appointment, give Lake Family Medicine & Imaging a call at 407-232-7655, or book online with us today.