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Importance of Yearly Physicals

When living a fast-paced life, it’s easy to overlook regular health check-ups. Many people only see the doctor when they feel sick, but the truth is, annual physical exams are crucial for staying on top of our health and catching potential issues before they become serious problems. Despite their importance, there are several common misconceptions that prevent people from scheduling these important appointments.

  •  “I only go to the doctor when I need it”: The most common misconception is that you only need to see the doctor when you already feel sick. Many health issues don’t show symptoms until they have already progressed. Routine physicals can catch these problems before they get worse. One of the most pervasive myths is that you should only see a doctor when you’re sick. However, numerous health conditions may not exhibit symptoms until they’ve already progressed. Routine physical exams allow healthcare providers to detect these issues early, when treatment is often more effective.
  • “I can self-diagnose at home”: While the internet is a useful tool for information, it does not replace a professional medical opinion. Self-diagnosing can lead to an incorrect diagnosis and cause unnecessary worry and stress. Bringing these concerns to regular check-ups ensures accurate information and appropriate care plans. Another misconception is that self-diagnosis using online resources is sufficient. While the internet can provide information, it cannot replace the expertise of a medical professional. Self-diagnosis can lead to incorrect conclusions and unnecessary stress. Bringing any health concerns to a regular check-up ensures accurate information and appropriate care plans.
  • “Check-ups are only for the elderly or school-aged children”: The truth is everyone has something to gain from a yearly exam, regardless of age. Annual physical exams are the basis of preventative care for people from infancy to old age. Additionally, there’s a belief that check-ups are only necessary for older adults. The reality is that people of all ages benefit from annual exams. From infancy to old age, these exams form the foundation of preventative care.

Routine physical check-ups offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Early Detection: Routine physicals allow healthcare providers to detect any chronic health conditions or deficiencies early on.
  • Vaccines & Preventative Screenings: Regular check-ups give you the chance to receive timely vaccines or preventative screenings, reducing the risk of developing serious health conditions.
  • Family History: Monitor any family history helps in assessing your risk for hereditary conditions.
  • Health Changes: Meeting with a physician regularly gives you the opportunity to discuss and address any health changes or concerns.

These benefits apply to individuals at any age. More specifically, here’s what you can expect during yearly physicals at different stages of life:

  • 5-20:  Back-to-school check-ups, as they are commonly called, are often the only visit kids and teenagers have with their providers every year. The annual physical gives the provider a chance to give your child a thorough physical exam that addresses any emotional, developmental, or social concerns. In addition to monitoring heart and blood pressure and testing for diabetes, your child’s doctor will use an annual exam to discuss diet, and exercise options, provide vision screenings, and test for cholesterol and anemia.
  • 20-39: Your doctor will focus on lifestyle habits, reproductive health, and early detection of potential issues. Expect blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and for women, a pap smear.
  • 40-49: Prepare for increased preventative screenings including blood pressure, cholesterol, and cancers. At age 45, your provider will likely start discussing colon screenings. Women can expect a discussion about mammograms.
  • 50-65: At this age, you may need more diabetes screenings, especially if you have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). Male physical exams past the age of 50 will also likely include a conversation about prostate cancer screening. Your doctor will also start discussing the shingles vaccine.
  • 65+: As you get older, your provider will likely ask you about your memory and mental health to identify any issues early on. At 65+, females who are post-menopause will start bone density screenings. After age 70, it is recommended that everyone start regular bone density screenings.

Whether you’re in your twenties or well into retirement, prioritizing annual physical exams is essential for maintaining your well-being. These appointments not only address current health concerns but also provide opportunities for preventative care and health education.

Ready to prioritize your health? If you’re looking to establish care with a healthcare provider or schedule your next appointment, visit Southwest Health’s Family Medicine services or call (608) 348-4330. Taking proactive steps towards your health today can lead to a healthier tomorrow. Schedule your annual physical exam and invest in your well-being.

If your child is looking for a sports physical for the upcoming school year:

Southwest Health is hosting a WIAA Sport Physical Clinic! Schedule a sports physical on Wednesday, August 7 in Kieler, Thursday, August 8 in Cuba City, and Friday, August 9 in the Platteville Clinic. Physicals are $25, which will be donated back to the child’s school.

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Because the way we see it, lifelong learning is a beautiful thing. No matter what your age and ability, we’re here for you to help you learn and grow and thrive.