The Importance of Annual Physicals for Maryland Residents

One of the biggest mistakes some people make when it comes to their health is only calling their doctor when they are sick or hurt. They may be thinking they don’t need to see a doctor if they are not sick. However, there are many benefits to visiting your doctor regularly to monitor your health and receive preventative care. The annual physical exam is probably the most important step you can take to care for your long-term health.

Your annual physical exam is your time to connect with your doctor, discuss any physical or mental health concerns, and decide together on preventative health steps you can take to ensure your long-term good health. Your annual physical also provides an opportunity for you to build a relationship with your primary care provider, so they know your health concerns and needs, and together you build a trusting relationship. A doctor who knows you is more likely to spot things that may be wrong faster than a doctor who does not know your health history. As a patient, you will likely trust a new health diagnosis or information from a doctor you know and trust more than you would from a doctor you have never seen before. Your primary doctors at First Medical Associates build trusting relationships with you and have a true concern and desire to ensure you live a healthy, fulfilling life.

Annual physicals are an opportunity to spot potential health issues, such as chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and other serious health concerns, like cancer. Since catching and treating diseases early leads to better health outcomes, this is a huge benefit of annual physicals. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes designed to keep you healthy depending on the results of your physical exam. An emergency room doctor seeing you for a sprained ankle will not run bloodwork to check for hidden issues, but your primary doctor at First Medical Associates will routinely check you for hidden health issues, especially at your annual physical. Depending on your health needs, you may see your doctor more frequently than once a year, but you should always see them at least once a year for your annual physical.

What Is My Doctor Looking for at My Annual Physical?

Each patient is unique, so your primary doctors at First Medical Associates will always modify your annual exam to look for any potential risks you may have. However, there are always a minimum of things that your expert primary doctors at First Medical Associates will do during your physical exam.

Health History Review

Your primary care doctor will review your heath history at your annual exam. Together you will discuss any health changes, family health changes, and lifestyle changes. This helps your doctor get a clear picture of your health and any concerns they may need to look for. Some questions may address smoking, substance use, and general life updates to evaluate mental health for stress and other potential issues.

Annual Physical Examination

Your head-to-toe physical examination will likely include:

  • Check height and weight
  • Vitals- temperature, pulse, and blood pressure check
  • Heart and lungs check
  • Mouth and ears check
  • Lymph nodes check
  • Skin check
  • Visual exam of extremities for potential swelling
  • Internal exams – pelvic exam/pap test or prostate exam
  • Breast exam
  • Blood test

Depending on your age and any health concerns, your Maryland primary doctors at First Medical Associates will look for more specific issues. For example, if a patient is middle aged or older, your expert doctor will look and listen for potential heart issues that become more prevalent as you age. They would not typically need to check for that on a healthy 20-year-old, unless they have an increased risk due to family history or past heath issues. So, just as you are unique, your physical exam will be unique to you, because your primary doctors at First Medical Associates will know your health history and risks.

You will want to prepare for your annual physical ahead of time. Write down any questions or concerns you want to discuss, so you do not forget anything in the moment. Write down any family history changes (parent diagnosed with something, etc.), any lifestyle changes (especially anything that has impacted your mental health, such as stressful new job, family loss, etc.). List all your medications and supplements, including dosage and frequency. Make sure you complete any pre-testing necessary before your annual exam, such as blood work, mammograms, and any other health related screenings.

Your annual physical exam is the foundation for your healthy lifestyle. Your expert Maryland doctor will thoroughly document all your health information, so it is accessible for you online in your medical health record at First Medical Associates, and for your doctor’s future reference if any concerns arise. Your positive long-term health and fulfilling life are our primary goals at First Medical Associates.

Call First Medical Associates today to schedule your annual physical examination with Maryland’s top primary care doctors.