Annual Physical Examinations
For many people, an annual physical examination is a source of reassurance that they're as healthy as they feel. Others see it as an alarm system, to catch health problems before they become serious. At Parkway we see it as both a source of reassurance and an opportunity to catch problems before they become serious. The value of an annual physical exam pays great dividends in keeping you healthy, feeling your best and gives you a chance to discuss any health issue you may have.
Your physical exam is an essential part of any visit with your Parkway physician.
This is your opportunity to mention any complaints or concerns about your health. We’ll also ask you about important behaviors, like smoking, alcohol use, diet and exercise. We will also check on your vaccination status and update your personal and family medical history.
Your medical care team at Parkway also performs physical exams for school, sports, camp, employment, DOT, insurance, marriage, workers compensation and others.Here are some of the vital signs that we will check:
- Blood pressure less than 120 over 80 is a normal blood pressure. Doctors define high blood pressure or hypertension as 140 over 90 or higher.
- Heart rate values between 60 and 100 are considered normal. Many healthy people have heart rates slower than 60, however.
- Respiration rate around 16 is normal. Breathing more than 20 times per minute can suggest heart or lung problems.
- Temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is the average, but healthy people can have resting temperatures slightly higher or lower.
- Heart Exam. By listening to your heart with a stethoscope, we can detect an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.
- Lung Exam. Using a stethoscope, your Parkway physician listens for crackles, wheezes, or decreased breath sounds. These and other sounds are clues to the presence of heart or lung disease.
- Head and Neck Exam. Opening up and saying "ah" shows off your throat and tonsils. We check the quality of your teeth and gums, which also provides information about your overall health. Ears, nose, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid and carotid arteries are also examined.
- Abdominal Exam. Your doctor can use a range of examination techniques including tapping your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal fluid, listening for bowel sounds with a stethoscope and palpating for tenderness.
- Neurological Exam. Nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, balance and mental state are assessed.
- Dermatological Exam. Skin and nail findings could indicate a dermatological problem or disease somewhere else in the body.
- Extremities Exam. We look for any physical and sensory changes. Pulses can be checked in your arms and legs.
Male Physical Exam
An annual physical exam for men might also include:
- Testicular exam: Check each testicle for lumps, tenderness, or changes in size. Most men with testicular cancer notice a growth before seeing a doctor.
- Hernia exam: The famous "turn your head and cough" checks for a weakness in the abdominal wall between the intestines and scrotum.
- Prostate exam: Inserting a finger in the rectum lets a doctor feel the prostate for its size and any suspicious areas.
Female Physical Exam
A woman's annual exam might include:
- Breast exam: Feeling for abnormal lumps may detect breast cancer or benign breast conditions. We also check the lymph nodes in the underarm area and look for visual abnormalities of the breasts.
- Pelvic exam: The pelvic exam allows examination of the vulva, vagina and cervix. Routine checks for sexually transmitted infections are often done. A Pap test can screen for cervical cancer.
At Parkway Family Physicians we believe physical exams should emphasize prevention and healthy living. Depending on your age, sex and health we may conduct laboratory tests as needed. The following are routine lab tests we do during a physical examination:
- Complete blood count
- Chemistry panel
- Urinalysis (UA)
Unless symptoms already suggest a problem, these tests are unlikely to provide useful information.
Your annual physical exam is a great opportunity to refocus your attention on prevention and living healthier. During your exam, we will take all the time necessary to answer any questions, offer our thoughts on how to improve your overall health. If, during you physical exam we discover a health issue, we will explain what they are, risks and treatment options available.