Southeast Iowa Medical Directory 2020 - Page 14

The importance of annual health exams Annual health exams are a key component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A person may not see the need to visit the doctor if he or she is feeling well, but not every disease or condition manifests itself in a way that men and women can detect. According the Unity Point Clinic, nearly one-third of the 133 million Americans living with a chronic disease are unaware of the presence of their conditions. Routine physical exams can detect serious illnesses before they do much damage. No two physical exams will be exactly alike, but many will share some general features. Health history - A crucial element of a physical exam will include a thorough health history if the physician doesn’t already have one on file. The doctor will take time to ask questions about family history of illness, health habits, any vices (smoking, drinking alcohol, etc.), exercise schedule, and diet. If there is a possible hereditary health condition running through your family, the doctor may suggest certain testing and make note of potential signs to look for in the future. Current ailments- After discussing a patient’s history, the doctor may ask if they are having any problems they cannot explain. These can include changes in eating or sleeping patterns; aches and pains; lumps or bumps and other abnormalities. Again, the presence of symptoms may be indicative of illness or physical changes, but not all diseases produce obvious symptoms. Vital signs - A doctor will check a patient’s vital signs during the physical. Areas the doctor will look at include but are not limited to:· Heart rate· Blood pressure · Respiration rate: · Pulse oximetry Physical exam - The examination will also include physical components. The doctor will perform a visual inspection of the skin and body for any abnormalities, such as the presence of skin cancer. The physician may feel the abdomen to check that internal organs are not distended. Females’ physical examinations may include breast and pelvic exams. 14