If you’re feeling generally healthy and have a fulfilling life, you may be tempted to skip your annual physical, but you shouldn’t. This once-a-year visit with your primary care physician is an important part of your overall health care.
Primary care physician Dr. John Lewis and our team at Umbrella HealthCare in Phoenix, Arizona, provide comprehensive preventive medical services, including annual physical exams, for their patients. They strongly encourage you to make and keep these appointments. Here’s why.
The annual physical is a time when you and your doctor review the “big picture” of your health. He notes any medical changes since your physical the year before, reevaluates which medications you’re taking and why, and makes note of any new developments.
The physical is also a “hands on” opportunity for Dr. Lewis to pick up on problems you may not have noticed that need to be addressed. For example, some conditions, like high blood pressure, don’t produce any noticeable symptoms until you hit a crisis. The physical allows the doctor to measure your pressure and determine if anything needs to be done when it’s in its early stages and able to be treated more effectively.
Generally, you get your blood draw done about a week in advance of the physical appointment so Dr. Lewis can have the results when you get together. Some key areas he checks are if you’re anemic, have signs of heart disease (high cholesterol or triglycerides), have high blood sugar levels (diabetes or prediabetes), have unbalanced electrolytes, or have problems with your kidney or liver’s functionality.
At the physical, a team member checks your vital signs, then you meet with Dr. Lewis for the physical itself. He reviews your medical history; asks about your lifestyle, including diet, amount of exercise, and amount of alcohol you consume; talks about medications or supplements you’re taking; and inquires if you’re experiencing any new or troubling symptoms. If you answer yes to the last, he makes a note on follow-up testing to determine the underlying cause.
He also shares the results of your bloodwork and discusses any readings that fall out of the normal range, including what can be done to fix the issue(s).
Next, he performs the physical part of the exam, listening to your heart and lungs, examining your eyes, nose, ears, throat, and abdomen, and checking your balance, posture, and reflexes to be sure all are normal. He also discusses your risk factors for diseases and provides medical and lifestyle information about how you can prevent serious illness.
Finally, he draws up a personalized treatment plan based on the examination results. If you’re in great health, that’s it until next year. If he finds a problem, he lets you know and recommends possible treatment options.
Even if you’re feeling fine, your annual physical is important.
Dr. Lewis updates your medical file at every appointment you have, especially your annual physical. That way, he has a running baseline of your health and knows what’s normal for you. If anything crops up, that record allows you and the doctor to trace its development over time.
As we’ve mentioned, some diseases don’t produce symptoms in their early stages. If you skip your annual physical, they can remain undetected until they reach a crisis level and are difficult to treat. Early detection means both less damage to your body and a more positive treatment outcome.
Keeping track of every vaccination or booster you need to get and when you need to get it can be a chore, but when you have an annual physical, Dr. Lewis can let you know if you’re due for any and administer them right in the office.
Your primary care physician is your jumping-off point for navigating the health care system. If you’re experiencing digestive issues, chest pain, or mental health problems, or if you need to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, among many other things, Dr. Lewis can provide a referral to the appropriate specialist so your entire health is addressed.
If you haven’t had a complete physical in more than a year, it’s time to rectify that and come into Umbrella HealthCare for an appointment. Give us a call today at 623-242-1389, or book your appointment online.