A doctor checks many aspects of a patient’s health to determine whether the symptoms are related to something else or simply to their overall health. They may prod the abdomen and listen for abnormal sounds using a stethoscope. This is especially important in detecting any heart rhythm irregularities, a murmur, and decreased breath sounds. Certain symptoms may require stool or sputum cultures. The doctor may order X-rays, computer tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. An electrocardiogram will also be performed to determine heart activity. Other tests may include sleep studies and home monitoring devices.
The ideal schedule for your physical exam depends on your age and medical needs. If you’re generally healthy and don’t have any risk factors, you may only need preventive screenings every few years. However, if you’re at risk for certain illnesses, you may need regular checkups more often. A physical exam can reveal if there’s anything you can improve to improve your health, and it’s a great time to discuss these changes with your healthcare providers.
Your doctor keeps a record of everything you discuss with them at your appointments. If you don’t have answers, they may assume that you already know the answer, or don’t want to hear more. Ask questions whenever you’re unsure. Keeping a record of everything you discuss with your doctor helps them get a general picture of your overall health. A regular visit will help your doctor spot problems early and make informed decisions about your health.