Annual physicals offer physicians valuable information concerning subtle changes in their patient's health. From year to year, the body undergoes slight changes that can have a direct impact on a person's health. Seeing the doctor once a year gives the doctor a chance to uncover subtle changes before they become major health problems. In some cases, an annual physical can uncover a chronic condition that is just beginning to present itself. Chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes are often first detected during an annual physical examination. Early detection means early treatment and can bring the condition under control much faster than if it was discovered during the advanced stages.
An annual physical includes the monitoring of a person's vital signs and a thorough examination of the body in an attempt to uncover any possible changes that may indicate the development of a health condition. A urine screen, blood sample, mammogram, pap smear, stool sample, and prostate exam may all be requested. Not everyone will receive the same tests. Some are gender specific, such as pap smears for women and prostate exams for men. General tests, however, that evaluate the strength of the heart and lungs are included for everyone. It is extremely important for the patient to make the physician aware of any questions or concerns they may have about changes they have noticed in their health.
Annual physicals often detect illnesses in their earliest stages. This is extremely important, especially for conditions like heart disease and cancer. When a health condition is uncovered early in its development, a doctor is able to use a wider variety of treatment options. Once a health condition has reached a certain "point of no return", treatment options become limited. This may also mean the difference between eliminating the condition altogether or learning to manage it effectively so it does not cause any more damage. Annual physicals provide the earliest possible chance of detection, especially if the patient is vigilant and comes to the doctor with a health concern.
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