On a daily basis, men and women worldwide fall into different diseases and conditions that are sometimes difficult to manage. These diseases can also lead to lifetime deliberation and also death. But fortunately, such circumstances can be avoided only if the men and women affected availed themselves regularly visiting the hospital for health examinations. These regular medical checkups do not mean that the doctor should be visited every week, but it could be a quarterly visit, twice or once a year.
What is a medical checkup? A medical checkup is a regular examination performed by a doctor or other medical practitioners to evaluate a person’s health. Through a series of medical examinations, a person would be able to determine which areas of their body need greater attention in order to treat any symptoms or other health-related issues with the assistance of their physician even before time.
Why Do We Need a Medical Checkup?
As we all know, life is growing busier, and aging is more real than ever; the significance of health and physical examinations has grown more indisputable. As people grow more knowledgeable and educated about their own health, the preventive healthcare system becomes increasingly widespread. People are actively seeking medical guidance about how to eat healthily. They want to reduce their risk of numerous ailments or diseases by keeping healthy nutrition, weight, and degree of physical exercise
According to the CDC, going for a medical checkup is beneficial in discovering problems before starting. Health problems can be detected early and cured more efficiently, increasing the chances of treatment. Moreover, it also helps to increase the chance of living longer. There are compelling arguments (1) (2) why individuals should see their trusted physicians annually for a regular health examination.
- Monitor Your Health. One should never disregard personal fitness, and being healthy extends beyond the absence of illness. Through medical checkups, a person has access to vital information that enables them to evaluate their physical, mental, and emotional functioning so that they may take action and make informed choices about their wellbeing.
- Early Disease Detection. Regular medical examinations enable physicians to detect indicators of disorders that individuals may not even be aware of existing. With frequent tests, the physician may detect potentially serious or life-threatening illnesses and prevent risks before it is too late or the situation worsens. The early identification of illness may contribute to more treatments or longer lives.
- Better Treatment Options. Some life-threatening disorders may develop gradually in the body prior to the onset of physical signs. With early identification, a person has a greater chance of receiving the appropriate therapy swiftly and gaining early access to choices that may accelerate the healing process.
- Decrease Healthcare Costs. Medical expenses may increase, particularly when a person is identified with an illness at a severe or advanced stage due to delayed diagnosis. That is why it is preferable to invest in routine medical examinations to prevent, avoid, and control illnesses in their earliest stages.
- Trusting Relation with Doctor. With frequent physical examinations and tests, a patient may create a trusting connection with their physician. This will make it easier for individuals to have open and honest conversations about their medical history and symptoms, paving the way for more effective medical care and treatment.
- Boost Lifespan. A competent doctor will motivate a patient to be much more conscientious and take the necessary measures to maintain health. This will contain tips for maintaining healthy behaviors and a healthy lifestyle overall.
What to Expect During a Medical Checkup?
Your doctor will do a physical examination to determine how your body is functioning. Depending on the medical history, the physician may opt to concentrate on certain areas. For instance, if anyone has a family history of heart disease, they may undergo extra blood pressure checks, blood tests, and screens for diabetes and cholesterol. During your physical examination, a variety of other medical tests may be conducted. These medical tests can be prescribed on the basis of the patient’s age, medical history, and family history.
In the past, the majority of medical organizations advised yearly health exams. However, the American Medical Association and other related organizations have discontinued the annual test in recent years. They now recommend that medical checkups be known as Periodic Health Assessments or Examinations and be conducted every five years (for people above the age of 18) until age 40, and every two to three years afterward. Those who use prescription drugs need to be evaluated more often. Most adults under 40 are devoid of conditions identifiable by physical exam alone.
A general physical examination may include the following:
1. Medical record. The physician may want an update on recent developments and modifications to the health history. This may include information on the career, relationships, drugs, allergies, supplements, and recent procedures. It is essential to keep your chart or medical record up to date.
- Results of past preventative interventions (such as prior immunizations, Pap tests, mammograms, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure readings)
- Your medical history, including medications and surgeries.
- Normal physiological processes include eating, sleeping, urinating, bowel movements, eyesight, and hearing.
- A current family history of diseases: This can help your doctor identify familial illnesses.
- Work and home relations.
- Your drug, alcohol, smoking, exercise, and sexual habits.
2. Check for Vital Signs. The following vital signs must be checked during a physical examination,
- Blood Pressure: Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over less than 80 millimeters of mercury. High blood pressure (hypertension) is defined by clinicians as 130 over 80 or greater.
- Heart Rate: Normal values for the heart rate range between 60 and 100. However, many healthy individuals have heart rates below 60.
- Respiration Rate: Normal adult respiration rate ranges from 12 to 16 breaths per minute. More than 20 breaths per minute may indicate heart or lung issues.
- Temperature. The normal resting body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, however healthy individuals might have slightly higher or lower temperatures.
3. Visual Exam. The doctor will also examine physical appearance for indications of probable diseases. They will examine the parts of the body that might visibly suggest health problems. This involves investigating the head, eyes, chest, abdomen, and muscular and nervous systems. As the physical examination goes on, the physician will use instruments to examine the eyes, ears, nose, and throat. They will examine the heart and lungs. It can also include “palpating” regions of the body (such as the belly) to detect abnormalities, using a stethoscope or lung and heart, examining skin, hair, and nails, also the genitalia and rectum, and evaluating motor functions and reflexes. The majority of physical examinations pose minimal dangers.
You are not required to prepare for a physical examination unless your doctor orders a fasting blood test. The doctor may draw blood for lab tests after the physical exam. Full blood count, metabolic panel (also called a chemistry panel/profile). This panel analyses blood plasma and may suggest kidney, liver, blood chemistry, and immune system problems. These medical tests aid in detecting anomalies in the body that may suggest a more serious issue. A complete lipid profile may also be recommended by the doctor if there is any family history of heart, stroke, or diabetes.
Laboratory tests are not routinely performed during an annual physical exam. However, some physicians will consistently prescribe certain testing.
Regular blood testing is one of the best ways to evaluate your general health. It also may help you understand your body’s changes over time and make informed health decisions. Some blood tests may tell your doctor how well your organs are performing or whether or not someone has heart disease. A blood test may reveal organ problems such as thyroid, liver, or kidneys as per research.
Obtaining a blood sample normally takes 3 minutes or less. When the needle is put into the vein to extract blood for a blood test, some moderate discomfort and agony may occur. The site where the needle was put may potentially develop a tiny bruise when it is withdrawn. This blemish ought to heal within a few days.
We will be looking at some of the most common and frequently used blood tests here:
1. Complete Blood Count (CBC). A complete blood count (CBC) measures ten components of each major blood cell: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The test examines RBC count, hemoglobin levels, and hematocrit. A CBC test may detect anemia, clotting abnormalities, inflammation, infections, or immune response abnormalities. A person must only fast before a CBC test if their doctor instructs. The following are some normal ranges and components that are studied according to NIH.
When they are not in the required range, they may reflect several changes in the body such as:
- Anemia (iron deficiency),
- Nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin B6 or B12,
- Clotting problems,
- Blood cancer,
- Infection, and
- Immune system disorders.
2. Blood Glucose. A blood glucose test measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in a person’s blood in order to detect diabetes. Normal fasting blood glucose levels vary from 70 to 99 mg/dL (3.9 to 5.5 mmol/L). Higher levels may suggest the presence of prediabetes or diabetes. One must fast for almost 8 hours to acquire accurate plasma glucose levels. It can also be attained without fasting and its accurate values with ranges are mentioned below.
Another medical test that can be used to detect the amount of sugar in the blood is HbA1c. The HbA1c test evaluates how much glucose is attached to the hemoglobin. Your red blood cells include hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from your lungs to your whole body. The following results can be expected upon blood test,
|Normal||below 5.7 percent|
|Prediabetes||5.7 to 6.4 percent|
|Diabetes||6.5 percent or above|
People over-45 age should acquire a baseline A1C measurement. Those under 45 should be tested if they are overweight or have any of the risk factors such as gestational diabetes etc.
3. Lipid Profile. If a physician intends to determine a patient’s chances of getting heart disease or other arterial conditions, he or she would typically order a lipoprotein, or lipid, panel. This test measures two forms of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein HDL, and low-density lipoprotein. HDL is “good” because it helps the liver break down harmful toxins. LDL is “bad” because it may form arterial plaque, increasing the risk of heart disease. One needs to fast for almost 8-12 hours to get this test done. Here are each type’s ranges as per sources, and these might change with age as well.
3. Basic Metabolic Panel. The basic metabolic panel (BMP) assesses the quantities of 8 substances present in the plasma component of the blood and also gives information on the bones, muscles, and organs. It checks the levels of:
- Calcium – if there is a kidney bone or parathyroid problem,
- Glucose – blood sugar levels,
- Sodium – reflects the body’s water balance more than salt,
- Potassium – salt in the body,
- Bicarbonate – associated with lung and kidney function,
- Blood urea nitrogen – determines the kidney function, and
- Creatinine levels – indicate the functioning of the kidney.
Depending on your doctor’s instructions and the test’s purpose, you may need to fast for 8 hours before the test. Annual medical visits may include a complete blood count CBC and basic metabolic panel BMP. Abnormal results may indicate kidney, lung, pancreas problems and insulin metabolism:
- Blood filtration
- Blood acid/base balance
- Blood sugar levels (diabetes)
- Electrolyte levels
- Hormone imbalance
4. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel. A CMP combines all BMP tests plus other proteins and chemicals relevant to liver function, such as Alkaline phosphatase ALP, Alkaline aminotransferase ALT, and Aspartate aminotransferase ALT, bilirubin, albumin, and total proteins. Abnormal levels might suggest underlying problems.
|Normal Range||High Levels||Low Levels.|
|Alkaline Phosphatase ALP||between 30 IU/L and 115 IU/L||
|Alanine Aminotransferase ALT||between 7 to 55(U/L)||• liver cirrhosis
• liver cancer and damage
|Aspartate Aminotransferase AST||8 to 33 U/L||• cirrhosis
• heart conditions
|Bilirubin||1.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) adults
1 mg/dL under 18.
|• abnormal red blood cell destruction
• adverse medication reactions
• bile duct blockage
|not a concern|
5. Thyroid Test. A thyroid profile, or thyroid function test, measures how effectively the thyroid is generating and responding to specific hormones, such as Triiodothyronine (T3) which helps to regulate heart rate, Thyroxine (T4) regulating metabolism, and Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which controls the hormone released by the thyroid.
Standard results of thyroid profiles are as follows,
||80–180 nanograms per deciliter of blood (ng/dL)
|| 0.8–1.8 ng/dL
||0.5–4 milli-international units per liter of blood (mIU/L)
Abnormal levels in these results can indicate disturbances:
- thyroid growth disorders,
- protein levels, and
- abnormal levels of testosterone or estrogen.
6. Clotting Profile. Clotting stops bleeding from a cut or wound. A clot in a vein or artery may be life-threatening because it can obstruct blood flow to the brain, heart, or lungs resulting in stroke or heart attack. Coagulation tests assess the efficiency and duration of blood clotting. The prothrombin time (PT) test and fibrinogen activity test are examples. A doctor may prescribe this test in the case of excessive bleeding, leukemia, liver problems, thrombosis, and vitamin K deficiency. These tests may reveal if you have a disease that causes excessive bleeding or clotting.
7. C-reactive protein test. The liver produces C-reactive protein (CRP) when the body’s tissues are inflamed. This inflammation can be due to many causes such as viral or bacterial infection, inflammation related to smoking and drug usage, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
||0.3 to 1.0 mg/d|
||1.0 to 10.0 mg/dL|
Regular medical exams are vital for long-term health, peace of mind, and stability. Now is the time to take action and preventative health measures.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to get regular skin examinations. These tests are necessary for persons with skin cancer risk factors, namely those with a family history of the disease. A physician may do a skin examination as part of a standard checkup. Typically, the doctor would examine the individual’s skin from head to toe. Birthmarks, moles, and other worrisome areas that have an odd color, size, form, or texture are what dermatologists normally pay most attention to during these physical exams.
People between the ages of 20 and 40 are advised by the American Cancer Society to get a professional skin inspection every three years, particularly if they reside in sunny locations. This guideline increases to once yearly for those aged 40 and older.
Bone Health Related Tests
Bones may be impacted by medical diseases like other tissues and organs. Fractures, wear and tear, inflammations, and cancer are examples. Injuries and fractures are prevalent among younger individuals. Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are increasingly common as we age. Various tests and exams may determine what’s causing discomfort or movement issues.
X-rays “see-through” bodily components. Radiation passes through various kinds of tissue to create the x-ray picture. Because bones are thick, they absorb practically all radiation and show as white or grey outlines on x-rays. Fat and muscles allow practically all radiation to flow through them, therefore they don’t show up on x-rays. X-rays may identify fractures, wear and strain, aberrant bone postures, and bone inflammations.
Another type of radiation used is Computed tomography CT scan which may reveal changes in the bones that traditional x-rays cannot or cannot see well. Different x-ray directions are used. CT scans do not use a single x-ray picture of the body portion being investigated. Instead, tiny x-ray slices are obtained. And to observe soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, and cartilage Magnetic resonance imaging MRI is the best choice. MRI gives comprehensive cross-section pictures of the body. This approach employs magnetic fields and radio waves instead of x-rays. MRI may detect bone inflammation, ligament and meniscus tears, and bone wear and tear.
There are two major types of bone examinations. A three-phase bone scan is a nuclear imaging examination that demonstrates how the bones process an injected substance. A DEXA bone scan is an X-ray that measures bone density and strength in order to diagnose osteoporosis.
2. Bone Scan. A bone scan, also known as bone scintigraphy, is an imaging procedure that examines bones for pathological diseases such as infection or malignancy in bone tissue. The process starts with a radioactive vein injection allowing the chemical to make its way through your body for two to four hours. As the material distributes throughout the body, bone cells gravitate toward locations requiring repair. The radioactive tracers of the material track these cells and gather in areas of damaged bone. It is absorbed in locations with high blood flow. Your doctor will scan the bones once enough time has passed. Dark patches on the photo show where the material landed.
Normal test results are obtained when the radioactive material is equally distributed throughout the body. This indicates that you likely do not have a serious bone condition.
3. Bone Density Test. Bone density tests (sometimes termed osteodensitometry) evaluate mineral content in bones. This test identifies osteoporosis, a condition characterized by bones that are weaker and more prone to fracture. X-rays are used to determine how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals such as Vitamin D etc., are contained inside a bone section. The spine, hip, and sometimes the forearm are the bones that are examined most often. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry is routinely used to evaluate bone density (DXA or DEXA). One may require a bone density scan if they are above 50 years of age due to risk of osteoporosis, and under 50 due to risk factors such as smoking, or previously broken bone. Check out this article about how the bone ages.
The results of bone density tests are provided as two numbers: T-score and Z-score are statistical measures. The greater your bone mineral density, the greater your bone mineral content. And the denser your bones, the stronger and less likely they are to shatter they are.
T Score. This compares your bone density to a young, healthy person of the same gender. The score reflects if the bone density is normal, low, or implies osteoporosis.
|-1 and above||Normal Bone mineral density BMD|
|Between -1 and -2.5||This indicates osteopenia, a poor bone density that may develop into osteoporosis.|
|-2.5 and below||Osteoporosis.|
Z Score. This enables people to compare bone mass to others of similar age, gender, and shape according to the Bone Health Osteoporosis Foundation.
|+1–2||High Bone Density|
|0||Same Bone Density|
|-1||Lower BMD as of same, age gender.|
|-2||Risk of osteopenia|
If the Z-score is much above or below average, then one may require extra testing. Expect a bone density test every 1 to 2 years if you take osteoporosis medication.
In addition to other medical tests such as blood testing, urinalysis is an essential component of the yearly health exam. Urinalysis is a simple test that can provide important clinical information regarding many conditions related such Urinary tract infections, renal stones, and kidney disease screenings. A urine sample is collected in a specimen cup for urinalysis. Proper sample collection prevents urine contamination. The doctor will next examine your urine using one or more of the following techniques:
- Microscopic Exam. In a microscopic exam, a doctor will examine urine samples. Abnormalities in RBCs and WBCs can indicate infection, renal diseases or more. Small crystals indicating renal stones, bacteria and yeast cells.
- Dipstick Test. A chemically treated stick is dipped into urine sample, The color of the stick varies depending on the presence of certain compounds. This will help the doctor identify High pH, blood traces, protein traces, sugars and bilirubin all referring to some illnesses.
- Visual Examination. In addition, the doctor may evaluate the sample for anomalies such as cloudy urine indicating infection, sharp odors, dark or reddish color of urine indicating either dehydration or blood in urine.
Cancer screening includes clinical examinations and mammography.
1. Tumor Markers.
Such tests are only required in the case of cancer screening. Tumor markers are chemicals produced by cancer cells or normal cells in response to the presence of cancer. Certain tumor markers are unique to a particular form of cancer. Others are present in several forms of cancer. But it is to be kept in mind that these tumor markers are not present in all forms of cancer. Doctors want to know all of each patient’s cancer. Tumor marker testing may be recommended during diagnosis, therapy, and follow-up care. Your doctor may screen for tumor markers using blood tests, urine tests, or biopsies.
Here are among the most common types of tumor indicators and the purposes they serve. They also demonstrate the stages of cancer, and if the treatment is working or not.
||For liver cancer, and ovarian and testicular cancers|
||For multiple myeloma, some lymphomas, and leukemias|
||For ovarian cancer.|
||For Breast cancer.|
||For lung, stomach, thyroid, pancreatic, breast, and ovarian cancers.|
||For prostate cancer.|
These medical tests are only performed when there is a need and may not be part of regular health screening and annual medical checkups until necessary. Cancer is one of the lethal causes of death worldwide. Learn more about cancer and its type here in our article.
Mammograms are used to test for breast cancer and other breast disorders at an early stage. It is both a diagnostic and screening instrument. Screening mammography is done on women without breast cancer symptoms. Regular mammograms may lower breast cancer mortality in women 40-74. Because breast cancer may be found early and treated before it spreads. It requires squeezing the breast between plates in order to acquire X-ray pictures.
If one has a history of breast cancer in the family, the doctor may test for more aggressive breast cancers related to particular genes (BRCA1 or BRCA 2) as described above. Learn more about how breast cancer can be prevented in this article here and how to manage if anyone has breast cancer.
A visit to the doctor’s office should not be reserved just for emergency situations. It’s no secret that preparation and planning are essential to achieving success, so why not apply the same principles to scheduling your doctor’s visits as well. The physical examination is an opportunity to speak candidly about your health, habits, and future. With your doctor’s assistance, you will be able to devise a strategy for addressing symptoms of potential problems.
Physical exams help avoid numerous health complications, particularly as one ages. They may also assist in planning for aging, family history, or lifestyle-related difficulties. Each physical exam may help to learn about the body and what to do to remain healthy. To learn more about what medical tests are needed for each age group as a precaution, please refer to our article here.