Did you know that COVID-19 caused the rates of outpatient visits to plummet? Even with a substantial rebound due to the growing rates of vaccinations, the number of doctor visits is one-third lower than the pre-pandemic rates.
In short, people who should be getting their health check up, and other important medical appointments are staying home to their own detriment. Needless to say, getting your annual health check up is now more important than ever before.
If you’re wondering whether you should be scheduling an annual health check up or not, don’t worry. You’ve come to the right place. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of what annual health check up entail, and why you might need one.
What Is a Health Check Up?
Generally speaking, whenever we talk about health, we refer to our state of physical, social, and mental well-being.
It’s your baseline ability to leading a good-quality life.
For most people without pre-existing conditions, health can be achieved through balanced nutrition, physical exercise or movement, getting enough sleep, and recreational activities.
Yet, once you’ve already ticked off all of those boxes, there will be some additional tasks you need to do to ensure your health, and that is preventative or annual health check up.
To minimize the chances of an illness remaining undercover for long stretches of time, leading to higher degrees of damage to heath, you’ll want to schedule a health check up with your healthcare provider.
There’s an increasing body of research showing that getting an annual health checkup can detect potential health issues before they become critical.
Annual Health Check Up 101
Starting with our physical health, this is the part where you have to follow your doctor’s discretion.
Interestingly enough, there’s no standardized annual health exam or physical check up. Yet, your doctor can help you nail down the essential tests that you might need, depending on your health history, and any risk factors that have a higher chance of affecting you and your lifestyle.
For now, we’ll explore the most common factors of any general health check up and what you can expect from each step.
Starting With Your Vital Signs
Any health check up tends to start with getting your vital signs checked out. Those are your heart rate, your blood pressure, your temperature, and your respiration rate.
For blood pressure, you should be getting a score of less than 120 over less than 80, as this is the normal range of healthy blood pressure. If you get a result of 130 over 80 or higher, then you might be dealing with hypertension or high blood pressure.
Moreover, healthy heart rates will range between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). Anything higher or lower than that might be an indication of an underlying condition.
As for temperature, we’re all familiar with getting 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit as our healthy average. But, you’ll want to keep in mind that some people have resting temperatures that are a bit lower or higher than the average.
Finally, you get to have your respiration rate tested. Getting from 12 to 16 breaths per minute is the benchmark for a healthy adult. But, if you’re breathing rate is higher than 20 times per minute, that might be an indicator of lung or heart problems.
Checking Your Chest and Abdominal Area
After recording your vital signs, it’s time for the physical part of your check up. Your doctor will start with a basic head and neck exam.
This will include a quick look at your nose, ears, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid glands, and carotid arteries. Your throat and oral health will be given a cursory look as well. But, of course, it won’t be as thorough as a dental exam.
Next, we have your heart exam, where your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope. This allows them to detect a heart murmur, an irregular heartbeat, or other signs of heart problems.
Still using the stethoscope, your doctor will start conducting your lung exam. They will be on the lookout for any wheezes, crackles, or other problematic breath sounds.
Afterward, it’s time for your abdominal exam. Your doctor will use a range of examination techniques, like tapping on your abdomen and listening with a stethoscope. This helps them detect your liver size, as well as the presence of your abdominal fluid. The palpating will help them check for tender areas as well.
Dental Health Check Up
A critical phase of your annual health check up is your dental exam. Unfortunately, you’ll find that many people tend to ignore this essential step in ensuring that your oral health is good to go.
A dental exam will include teeth cleaning, checking for cavities or any signs of gum disease. Depending on the state of your dental health, your dentist might ask for dental x-rays or other diagnostic procedures.
Remember to set up an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. And, if you’re looking for a new dentist, you can check this link: dentist near me.
Reproductive Health Check Up
Our reproductive health is directly tied to our overall physical and mental health. So, if you have male equipment, you can expect your annual exam to include a testicular exam, a prostate exam, a hernia exam, and a penis exam.
And, if you have a set of female reproductive equipment, then you can expect a breast exam and a pelvic exam. Those are essential for detecting any abnormalities or lumps in your breast tissue, as well as ensuring the health of your vulva, cervix, and uterus.
Ready to Set Up Your Health Check Up?
Our bodies are works of wonder. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need some external help, whenever a malfunction occurs.
The same way we do our taxes and other financial documentation yearly, we should be setting up an annual health check up as well. Hopefully, our explainer has shed some light on what the check up can entail, and the main areas of concern.
And, if you liked our article, make sure to check out additional tips and advice, all available to you in our health and lifestyle sections.