As experienced family physicians and medical providers, our team at Dr. Bridget Bellingar DO & Associates provides medical care whether you’re sick or injured, but we’re also here when you feel good too.
Physical exams — including well-woman exams, pre-employment physicals, and sports exams — are a key pillar of your health plan.
We use physical exams to evaluate your health, monitor for any red flags, and ensure that you stay on track for meeting your health goals. In this blog, we explore the importance of annual exams and what you can expect during your appointment.
How your physical exam supports your overall health
A physical exam supports your overall health in a few ways. It can:
- Establish a baseline of your overall health, which makes it easier to detect subtle changes
- Provide an opportunity for preventive services
- Provide one-on-one time with your provider to address any concerning symptoms
- Provide an opportunity for you to learn more about healthy lifestyle changes
- Reduce your risk of potential injuries
During your exam, we ask you to provide information about your personal health history as well as your family history. Your family health history can illuminate any specific conditions for which you have a higher risk factor.
For example, if high blood pressure runs in your family, you may have an increased risk of developing it too. With this knowledge, we can suggest heart-healthy lifestyles to help improve your odds.
All of this information works together to help prevent diseases as well as catch the first signs of any problems so you can get any necessary treatments as soon as possible.
Why your baseline is important
During your appointment, we take a series of noninvasive readings. These vitals include your:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Respiration rate
Establishing your baseline is important both now (to detect any immediate issues) as well as in the future (to detect any trends in your readings). For example, if your blood pressure readings slowly rise over the years, that’s a signal that it’s time to focus on heart-friendly habits.
Why preventive services are necessary
As the name suggests, preventive services help prevent. Vaccines, such as the annual flu shot, can help you avoid contagious illnesses, including the flu, mumps, and rubella.
Many schools require specific vaccines, and keeping your child’s immunization record current can help you comply with your school’s guidelines.
Why addressing problematic symptoms is important
During your physical exam, you may share any odd or concerning symptoms. Not all diseases have symptoms that hurt, so feel free to share anything that seems out of the ordinary, even if nothing hurts.
For instance, itchy moles might seem like nothing more than a nuisance, but they can be a sign of melanoma.
Other symptoms worth mentioning include sudden weight gain or weight loss (without trying), dizziness, mood changes, and extreme thirst.
Supporting your health with lifestyle changes
Your physical exam isn’t just for catching the signs of illnesses. The information we learn during your annual exam can help you stay healthy throughout the year. We may advise you on any changes you should consider. Healthy lifestyle habits include:
- Exercising regularly
- Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Following a well-balanced diet
- Stopping smoking
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
We help you focus on the healthy changes you need to reach your own wellness goals.
How physical exams help prevent potential injuries
During sports exams or pre-employment exams, we assess your overall health, but we also look for any issues that could lead to potential injuries on the job or on the playing field.