Why Do I Need an Annual Physical?


If you’re like most Americans, you have many obligations competing for your attention. When things get busy, it can be easy to let routine appointments and commitments slide. 

But prevention is the best medicine when it comes to your health, which means making sure you make — and keep — proactive appointments, such as annual physical exams. Early detection can make the difference between putting the brakes on a problem or allowing it to worsen.

In fact, more than 157 million American adults have a chronic illness, but fewer than half receive the preventive care they need. Yet most of these health conditions can be caught and treated by going to annual physicals

At Prima Medicine, our experienced health care providers offer comprehensive annual physical exams to patients in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia. Our practice partners with you and your family to make sure you enjoy optimal health, and an annual physical offers the best start.

Physicals provide important baseline information

Your annual physical gives your health care team at Prima Medicine important baseline health information, so we can detect changes and problems as they arise. At your first physical exam, your provider takes key information and compares how this changes at subsequent visits each year. 

Your annual physical is a time to establish your medical history, review your family health history, and discuss with your provider any important lifestyle considerations you have that may impact your health, such as dietary concerns or drinking habits. 

Your provider looks for any abnormalities in your heart, lungs, ears, nose, and throat, and evaluates the function of key muscle groups and your joints. It’s also a good opportunity to review and make changes to any medications you take. 

Get preventive screenings on time

Based on your current health, medical history, lifestyle, and guidelines for your gender and age group, you need important preventive health screenings. Your annual physical helps you stay on track with these and other preventive health care measures, such as vaccinations and immunizations. 

Everyone, from young children to elderly adults, needs routine immunizations, such as tetanus boosters, shingles vaccines, and the flu shot. Your provider reviews your history and makes recommendations customized for you.

You can also expect a blood workup with lipid profiles to measure your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And depending on your personal and family histories, you may get additional screenings to check for different conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, or thyroid issues.

Furthermore, both men and women can benefit from timely colon cancer screenings. And, men can get prostate cancer screenings, and women can get screenings for breast cancer, HPV, and cervical cancer. 

Catch and treat “silent” conditions early

Many conditions dangerous to your health are silent, meaning they don’t present warning signs until the condition becomes advanced. These conditions are often called “silent killers” for this reason. 

One example is high blood pressure, which doesn’t have any symptoms until a heart attack, heart disease, or stroke hits. Others include diabetes, certain cancers, glaucoma and cataracts, sleep apnea, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 

Your provider can check for conditions like these at your annual physical, which can make it easier to catch them early and begin treatment as soon as possible. With this information, you can take steps to reverse a condition and avoid complications.  

Look for chronic diseases

Many Amercians live with chronic disease. In fact, three in five American adults have a chronic illness, and two in five adults have multiple chronic diseases. These conditions, which include heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease, are among the leading causes of death and disability for men and women in the United States.  

Having an annual physical allows your provider to evaluate your risk factors for chronic disease, note any health changes since your last exam, review lifestyle choices that pose a risk for chronic illness, and provide you with concrete strategies to mitigate or manage your risk.

Build a relationship with your provider

Having an established relationship with your doctor is helpful when a health care crisis strikes. Your annual physical gives you time to get to know your care providers when you’re not sick or in the middle of a stressful medical problem. 

By visiting Prima Medicine regularly, you can connect, establish rapport and trust, and discuss your personal health care beliefs and preferences before a problem hits. This can make it easier to navigate challenges together if they arise. 

Keep your health on track with an annual physical by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Prima Medicine today.

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