What to Expect at Your Annual Check-up

Your time with your primary care provider will be tailored to you, so no two annual check-ups are alike. But here are some things your provider will likely review:

Your Questions and Concerns—This is your time to be completely focused on and honest about your health. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics that may feel awkward or uncomfortable—primary care providers are used to helping patients with issues ranging from depression to domestic abuse.

History—Your provider will review your vaccination status, family medical history and lifestyle behaviors, such as diet, exercise and tobacco use.

BMI—Obesity can lead to a host of health problems. Using your height and weight, your provider will calculate your body mass index (BMI), the standard metric for determining obesity.

Vital Signs—This includes your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiration rate.

Heart and Lung Exam—Using a stethoscope, your provider will listen for clues to heart or lung disease.

Head and Neck Exam—Say ah! Your provider will examine your throat, tonsils, ears, nose and lymph nodes, as well as your gums and teeth, for clues to your overall health.

Abdominal Exam—Your provider may gently tap, press and listen to your abdomen with the stethoscope to detect any irregularities, such as presence of abdominal fluid.

Gender-Health Exams—If you’re a man, your check-up may include a testicular, penis, hernia and prostate exam (depending on your age). For women, some primary care providers can perform breast and pelvic exams if you’re not already under the care of an OB/GYN.

Neurological, Dermatological and Extremity Exams—An annual check-up is a true head-to-toe exam. Your reflexes, balance, mental state, skin, joints and more may all be evaluated.

Will I Need to Get Lab Work?
There are no standard lab tests during an annual check-up. However, depending on your age and your risk factors, your provider may order the following:
Complete blood count
Chemistry panel
Urinalysis
Lipid panel screening (cholesterol test)
Blood sugar check (diabetes test)

Should I Bring Anything to My Appointment?
Since your time is precious, it’s smart to come to your check-up well prepared. Helpful items to bring include:
A list of your questions/concerns. It’s very easy to forget them in the moment!
A list of all your current medications (including over-the-counter and supplements)
A list of all your current healthcare providers (e.g., your cardiologist, your OB/GYN)
Your personal and family medical history if this is your first time seeing this provider
A notebook and pen, so you can record your provider’s answers and recommendations
A friend or family member. With older patients, especially, it’s helpful to have an extra set of ears. You can ask them to leave for the physical exam if it makes you more comfortable.

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