Every 50,000 miles a car needs an oil change to stay in top condition. While it is up on the lift they do a bit of an inspection to let you know if anything is out of the ordinary. It is tempting to let an oil change go but you know that you are in for trouble if you do. The same goes for an annual exam, you know you should go but it is very tempting to put it off. Why would you take care of your car better then you take care of yourself?
A routine check up is an opportunity to see the doctor when you are well. Many things can be detected early when the doctor is giving you a once over and not focused on something that is ‘broken’. Some people actually like the annual exam because it confirms that you are as healthy as you feel. Many people feel they get more out of an exam if they come with a list of questions. During the weeks before jot down any question that come to mind and bring the list. It is pretty easy to forget things when you are in a paper gown.
If you have been skipping your exam here is a quick list of what may be checked:
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Resting temperature
- Memory and mental quickness
- Skin and extremity health
- Throat and tonsils
- Teeth and gums
- Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid
- Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance, are all checked
- Gender dictates some specific checks – you know what those are
- Depending on the last time you had it; cholesterol, colorectal screening, and a few other blood tests might be ordered
Getting a benchmark on all these stats yearly help show a pattern of your personal normal health that is very important if you ever do become sick. A year over year review can also show things that sneak up on you like a mole that has gotten bigger so slowly you never even noticed.
The theme of an annual exam should be prevention. This is the time that you and your doctor should discuss not just how to prevent further deterioration but how to get MORE HEALTHY. Each of us is in a different place physically and mentally but there is always room for improvement. Take the opportunity to ask the doctor what they recommend for improving your health, they might be pleasantly surprised at the question since so many people are just looking for status quo.
While you are scheduling your annual physical exam don’t forget an appointment with the eye doctor and any other specialist you are supposed to check in with. If this is a chore for you, schedule a treat to look forward to. Even if it is not a chore, scheduling a treat is good for you too. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.