Getting your annual doctor’s exam, your “physical,” is commonplace, especially for younger patients and patients in their 30s and above. There isn’t a set checklist involved with every physical, but there are certain areas of your health that are checked. At Affirm Health Center, we are proud to provide physicals for patients ages 12 and up for a broad range of patients from Springfield and the surrounding areas.

Here’s what you can expect at your next physical with us. We’ll go over the differences between physicals for men and women in a future blog; here let’s discuss what all physicals have in common.

We’ll talk history

We’ll start with any complaints you have. Pain. Other issues. We’ll ask you some lifestyle questions. Exercise you’re getting, alcohol consumption, whether you smoke or not, and other basic questions. We’ll discuss risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease.

Vital signs

We’ll check these areas:

  • Blood pressure — We want to see numbers under 120 over 80.
  • Heart rate — Heart rates between 60 and 100 are considered normal.
  • Respiration rate — We listen for 12 to 16 breaths per minute. Over 20 can point to lung or heart problems.
  • Temperature, weight, height — Your check-in P.A. or M.A. will take your temperature and your weight and height.

These are areas we typically examine during your physical:

  • Heart exam — We listen with a stethoscope for an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or clues to possible heart disease.
  • Lung exam — Again with a stethoscope, we listen for wheezing, crackles, or sounds of decreased breath, all clues for lung disease or possibly heart disease.
  • Head and neck exam — The famous open and say “ah” test shows us the state of your throat and tonsils, the quality of your teeth and gums, and can provide clues about your overall health. We’ll also usually check your lymph nodes, ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, and thyroid.
  • Abdominal exam — Tapping your abdomen tells us the size of your liver and any presence of abdominal fluid buildup. Pushing on areas probes for tenderness.
  • Neurological exam — Reflexes, muscle strength, nerves, balance. Especially in older patients we’ll look at these areas.
  • Dermatological exam — We check for signs of skin cancers, or other skin issues, such as varicose veins, that can point to other health problems.
  • Extremities exam — If you’ve been having cold feet or tingling fingers, we may check your pulse in your arms and legs. We may check nerve response in your fingers and toes for signs of compression elsewhere.

Are you due for your physical? Many health plans now require a yearly physical to obtain certain benefits or “points.” Call the team at Affirm Health Center, (417) 823-3901 to schedule your physical.

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