Annual physicals: To do or not to do?
For some, the annual physical is tradition—like turkey at Thanksgiving or candy at Halloween. Okay, I’m not fooling anyone, least of all myself. I’m vigilant about my children’s physicals and immunizations, but when it comes to my own health I’ve been known to miss a Pap smear. This brought to mind the question of whether the annual physical is necessary.
As a physician I will argue that yes, you need a physical. As a busy working mom, however, I will argue perhaps not every single year for every single person.
A physical is important as a time to reconnect with your provider, screen for diseases and cancer, make sure your vaccinations are up to date and generally walk out with a sense of well-being. There are diseases like hypertension that can be easily checked at a physical, and if left unchecked can be detrimental.
What should you expect at your physical? Well, that depends. You can definitely expect your provider to take your history and do a physical exam, but from there all bets are off. Whether you need blood work, Pap smear, colonoscopy, mammogram, bone density scans and other tests will be determined by your provider. The guidelines for screening are constantly changing.
So back to the original question: Do we need annual physicals? There is no definitive answer. Generally, if you are under the age of 49 and have no chronic medical conditions every two to three years is sufficient. If you’re over 50, an annual physical is probably a good idea.
Me, I turned 40 this year so I may or may not have a date with a mammography machine. I’ll have to discuss it with my doctor.
Haizal (Nina) Hamza, MD, recently returned to Ridgeview Chanhassen Clinic as an internal medicine doctor. She sees adult patients for annual exams, illness care, and the diagnosis and treatment of chronic medical problems.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Hamza.
Ridgeview Medical Center is an independent, nonprofit, regional health care system located just 35 minutes west of Minneapolis on Highway 5. Its network includes two hospitals—located in Waconia and Arlington—a multitude of primary and specialty care clinics (including OB/GYN clinics in Chaska and Chanhassen) , emergency services and specialty programs, and Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska—a free-standing 24/7 emergency and urgent care facility with multi-specialty clinics and services.