Most women who are feeling ill know when it reaches the point that they need to schedule an appointment to see their doctor. Women are also likely to visit their doctor if they have some health concerns that they want to have evaluated. But when it comes to scheduling routine physical examinations and well-care visits, many women are not quite as health savvy.
Routine physical exams are an important diagnostic tool that enables your doctor to keep track of any changes taking place in your body that may be indicative to an underlying disease or condition. Without routine check-ups, those conditions can go undetected. Often, the onset of disease can be gradual and symptom-free, enough so that signs may be overlooked until the later stages of the disease. Routine physical examinations can allow the doctor to catch and treat health concerns early enough to possibly avoid a health care crisis. Many potentially harmful conditions can be addressed and treated when detected early, simply by visiting your doctor for a routine physical exam.
Before meeting with your doctor, your basic annual physical exam will start with a nurse. The nurse will take your blood pressure and check your body temperature. The results will be recorded in your medical file and your doctor will look these over before proceeding with the examination.
When your doctor comes in to examine you, he will start by asking a series of health questions that will be recorded and saved in your medical file. Questions will include:
The doctor will ask you if you have any health concerns that need to be addressed. You will be given a chance to ask questions or voice complaints that you may have been experiencing.
The doctor will be assessing your health by visually observing the condition of your skin, your ability to give quick responses to questions asked, and by keeping alert to any signs you may display that could suggest a potential health concern.
The physical portion of the examination will consist of the doctor using a stethoscope to listen to your heart to check for signs of possible heart disease. He will also listen to your lungs to check for possible signs of lung disease. The doctor will rely on simple medical instruments to check your ears, nose and throat and make sure they are in healthy condition. The sinuses and tonsils will be observed as will the teeth and gums. The doctor will look into your eyes to check for any potential problems.
All these simple but useful tests can help give clues about the general condition of your health and can point to any possible abnormalities that need to be addressed further. Here are some other simple tests a doctor might perform during a physical exam for women:
Your doctor will perform a variety of diagnostic laboratory tests to rule out any possible underlying medical conditions. Blood tests may include:
Additional diagnostic tests may include:
It is best to be well-prepared when going for your annual physical exam. Your doctor will ask many questions in order to accurately diagnosis the present state of your health. He will need to be well-informed of any possible risks that should be checked for. Being able to provide your doctor with important facts about your family’s health history will help give clues to any risks that you may have inherited. Stroke, heart attack, diabetes and cancer are some examples of conditions that may be have been passed on to you.
Bring with you a complete list of all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you are currently taking or recently stopped taking. Include a list of any vitamins, dietary supplements and herbal remedies as well. Your doctor relies heavily on the information that you provide to help him make the best possible determination about the present condition of your health.
Bring a record of any complaints or concerns that you want addressed. Pay attention to and record how often you are experiencing any symptoms, what you were doing before the symptoms occurred, and any external factors that may be contributing to the symptoms, such as foods or medications.
As a form of preventive medicine and in order to reap the most benefits from your physical exam, you should schedule a routine visit once a year. A yearly physical allows your doctor to detect changes in your body that may be cause for concern. Changes may be an indication that further treatment is needed in order to keep you healthy. Sometimes, all that is needed to is a simple lifestyle change, such as when high cholesterol levels are detected. Other times, early warning signs may be detected that prompt further testing or medical treatment. Scheduling an annual physical examination can be a simple way to avoid serious health concerns.
Certain tests will become part of your routine exam as you age.
Women of childbearing age are at risk of suffering from iron-deficiency anemia as a result of blood loss during menstruation. Many times, iron deficiency presents with mild symptoms that often go unnoticed. Symptoms can include fatigue, chills, muscle aches and irritability, or no symptoms at all. If you are of childbearing age and you have heavy bleeding during menstruation, you may need to schedule physical exams more often to keep a close eye on iron levels.