What to Expect at Your Annual Wellness Exam

Every adult needs a primary care physician who can manage their routine health needs. One of the most important functions of your primary care physician is to perform annual wellness exams. These exams allow doctors to diagnose health concerns as soon as possible. Being prepared for your physical check-up can help you have a good and productive experience at the doctor's office. Here are some things you can expect at your annual wellness exam:

1. Blood Pressure Test

When you arrive at your doctor's office, one of the first things your doctor will do is test your blood pressure. A blood pressure cuff will be applied to your upper arm, where it will slowly squeeze your arm until the flow of blood is interrupted. This will tell your doctor your systolic and diastolic blood pressure. If your blood pressure is outside a healthy range, you may be advised to make lifestyle changes or undergo hypertension treatment to prevent heart disease and stroke. 

2. Cardiovascular Exam

Your heart and lungs play important roles in your body. Your lungs intake oxygen from the air you breathe, absorbing it into your bloodstream. Your heart circulates blood throughout your body so your muscles and organs can receive oxygen and nutrients. During a physical check-up, your doctor will perform a noninvasive cardiovascular exam to check the function of your heart and lungs. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your lungs to ensure they are clear. Your doctor will also listen to your heartbeat to learn important information about your resting heart rate.

3. Manual Exam

Your doctor will perform a manual exam during your annual physical check-up. Your doctor may palpate the skin on your neck since this allows them to check for swollen lymph nodes, which can indicate that your body is fighting off disease or infection. Your doctor may also press on your abdomen during your physical exam. This allows your doctor to check for an enlarged liver, which can be a sign of liver disease. 

4. Referrals to Specialists

Ideally, your doctor will give you a clean bill of health following your annual wellness exam. However, your doctor may discover health concerns that need to be addressed. If your doctor decides that it's in your best interest to see a specialist, they can write you a referral. People experiencing chronic stomach problems may benefit from a referral to a gastroenterology doctor. Meanwhile, women may be referred to a gynecologist for their annual pelvic exam.