Physical Exams

All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even if they are healthy.
The purpose of these visits is to:

  • Screen for diseases
  • Assess risk of future medical problems
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Update vaccinations
  • Maintain a relationship with a health care provider in case of an illness

Even if you feel good, it is still important to see your health care provider regularly to check for potential problems. Most people with high blood pressure don’t even know it. The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked. Also high blood sugar and cholesterol levels often do not show any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced. Bottom line is you need to meet with your health care provider on a regular basics to ensure your health is where it needs to be.

What you can expect to find out during your physical:

  • Blood pressure screening:
    • Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years unless it is 120-139/80-89 Hg or higher. Then have it checked every year.
    • Watch for blood pressure screenings in your area. Ask your health care provider if you can stop in to have your blood pressure checked. Check your blood pressure using the automated machines at local grocery stores and pharmacies.
    • If the top number (systolic number) is greater than 130 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is greater than 85, call your doctor.
    • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Cholesterol screening and heart disease prevention:
    • Men over age 34 should be checked every 5 years.
    • If you have risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, start getting screened earlier, at age 20.
    • If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Dental exam:
    • Go to the dentist every year for an exam and cleaning.
  • Eye exam:
    • If you have vision problems, have an eye exam every 2 years.
  • Immunizations:
    • After age 19, you should have a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine once as part of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines. You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
    • You should get a flu shot each year.
    • You should get the HPV vaccine if you have not already.
    • Your doctor may recommend other immunizations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes.
  • Infectious disease screening:
    • Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV, as well as other infections.
  • Preventive health visits should be every 2 years, and may include:
    • Checking height and weight
    • Screening for alcohol and tobacco use
    • Screening for depression
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