Whether you're applying for a new job, getting ready to travel, or even a parent, there is a good chance that a physical exam is part of your life. A physical exam is a way for Dr. Jessica Cho to check on a person's overall health. During the exam tests are done and this is a time for someone to talk with their doctor about any concerns they are having. There are some differences between the exams for men, women and children, but they all have one thing in common, keeping you healthy.
Before the exam, the nurse or receptionist takes a medical history and you usually fill in an application with the most updated information. It will cover previous illnesses and hospitalizations with questions about family medical information often included. Also, any medications, prescription and over the counter should be listed to prevent any unwanted side effects. Add in any lifestyle information like exercise or how much alcohol you consume on a daily basis.
The exam starts with a check of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. The doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs; blood pressure is taken and reflexes tested at this point. The patient will lie down where the abdomen is examined.
Exams for children check the eyes, ears, nose and throat as well as heart and lungs; it also includes checking the abdomen. Differences are there is no blood pressure check. Also for children the motor reflexes are tested as is hearing and vision. Immunizations if needed are given as part of the physical exam. Next will be an examination of the skin for any moles or skin conditions.
For women, the physical exam will include a breast exam followed by a pap test and pelvic exam. The pelvic exam checks the reproductive organs for any problems while the pap test is used to test for cervical cancer. For men, there is a digital rectal exam that is used to check for prostate cancer.
There are a few other tests that might be done with the physical exam. Lab tests are done on blood that is drawn; these look for any irregularities as well as things like cholesterol and blood count. A urine sample allows the doctor to see if the urinary tract is healthy. There may be the need for other tests such as x-rays, EKGs, MRIs and CT scans based on certain results you might receive.
The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines point to children and adolescents getting a physical every year from ages 4 to 21. For adults, they should be seen every 1 to 3 years from the ages of 22 to 64 and over 65 every year. If someone has certain conditions, they will need to see the doctor more often. For example, those patients with asthma are usually required to visit their doctor at least once every three months to monitor progress and also the effectiveness of medications.