What Happens at an Annual Physical?

Annual physicals are a unique experience for each patient. What happens during your exam depends on many factors, like your health concerns and medical history. To get a better idea of what may happen during your exam, our team at Smart Clinic Urgent Care offers this comprehensive guide.

Here is why you might need a physical

There are several reasons why you might need a physical exam. For some, it’s just a way to check their health status, like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Other patients may require a physical for sports or before starting a new job.

Some patients must have a physical before undergoing surgery, as well. Whatever the reason, we recommend getting a physical at least once a year to ensure you’re in good health.

Comprehensive health review

One of the most important parts of a physical is an in-depth review of your medical history. This helps our team get a better idea of what you may need to be tested for and if any of your records require an update.

For example, if heart disease runs in your family, you should check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels more often compared to a patient who’s at low risk.

During your physical, expect your Smart Clinic provider to ask questions about your lifestyle, like if you smoke or drink alcohol, your diet, and how often you exercise.

Checking vitals and discussing health concerns

Checking your vital signs is a key part of preventive care and includes checking your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiration rate, or your rate of breathing. Looking at your vitals helps us catch problems early, before they worsen.

After checking your vital signs, we make time to go over the results. If your blood pressure is slightly high, we may ask you more about your diet and how often you exercise and offer ways to help lower it.

Smart Clinic Urgent Care values patient-centered care, so we encourage you to ask any questions about your health or symptoms.

Physical assessment

A physical assessment evaluates your organs and appearance for any abnormalities. Using special medical tools, we look in your ears and eyes, check inside your mouth, and examine your lymph nodes.

During the examination, your abdomen is also checked. One technique we use is tapping your abdomen while listening with a stethoscope. This tells us how much abdominal fluid is present and lets us listen for any unusual bowel sounds.

Additional tests

Depending on your health and how your physical goes, your Smart Clinic Urgent Care provider may order some additional testing, like a complete metabolic panel. This test checks for any problems with your kidneys and liver, while also checking your cholesterol levels and blood count.

Some patients may need an X-ray if they have joint pain or other problems that go beyond the surface.

What happens during a physical exam depends on many factors

Your overall health, age, gender, and other factors largely determine what happens during your annual physical. 

Men who are age 50 and older should undergo a prostate screening, which checks for prostate cancer. Women over the age of 50 often require a mammogram to check for signs of breast cancer.

And if we find anything out of the ordinary during your exam, you may need to have additional tests or evaluations.

If it’s time for your annual physical or you just have questions about what to expect, feel free to walk in, call one of our Smart Clinic Urgent Care centers in West Covina or Santa Clarita, California, or book an appointment online.

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