What Can You Expect From a Medical Screening?
Did you know that preventative medical screenings can increase your life expectancy? One study found that 30 to 49-year-olds that attended annual screenings gained 0.14 life years.
But many people avoid medical screenings altogether. Drawing blood, answering sensitive questions, and possibly getting negative results are common reasons for avoidance.
So, do you really need a yearly checkup? The answer is yes! Keep reading to find out why and what you can expect from the process.
Why Do I Need a Medical Screening?
A medical screening is the best place to ask your physician any important questions you may have. For that reason alone, you should be getting a yearly checkup.
But medical screenings also test for a wide range of diseases and illnesses. While tests may differ depending on age and sex, common tests will screen for the following:
- Heart disease
- Bone health
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Lung health
- Mental health
- Chronic illnesses
Some illnesses can have subtle symptoms, and people may not even know they have them. But catching a problem early on can result in better management of the disease and fewer complications in the future. Early diagnosis is the number one reason for attending a medical screening.
For some people, access to certain medical diagnostics can be difficult. It may be due to time, cost, or availability. Mental health and sexual health programs might be easier to access during an annual medical screening.
What Does the Medical Assessment Involve?
Medical assessments are not one size fits all. The screening process can vary based on:
- Biological sex
- Health concerns
- Family history
But generally, your checkup will consist of three parts. You’ll discuss your medical and family history with the physician. Based on the factors mentioned above, you’ll receive a physical exam. Finally, the physician may recommend extra diagnostic tests, like a lipid panel.
Medical and Family History
Your doctor will likely begin by asking you about your current health. They’ll need to update your medical records, so you should share any recent surgeries, medications, or illnesses. You can also mention lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or starting an exercise regime.
Your family history will need to be updated since some illnesses have genetic links. It’s vital to track diseases in your family so that your doctor is aware of risk factors. It ensures they recommend the proper tests and preventative care.
After your discussion, the physical exam will begin with a vital signs check. They will check your pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
Often, a visual exam of the body will follow. Your doctor may examine your skin, eyes, and nervous system functions at this time. They will also feel your body for any abnormalities, such as pressing on your abdomen or lymph nodes.
Your doctor will do a heart exam with a stethoscope. By listening to your heart rate, they can determine any irregularities, heart murmurs, or signs of disease. They’ll also check your lung health in the same manner.
Males may get a testicular, prostate, and hernia exam. Females may have to do a breast and pelvic exam. These tests depend on your age and how long it’s been since your last visit.
Based on your physical exam and current health, your doctor might send you for laboratory tests. Lab tests usually involve drawing blood to check for abnormalities.
A complete blood count (CBC) is a standard lab test. It measures your levels of white and red blood cells, as well as hemoglobin, hematocrit, and platelets. It’s a very in-depth exam that can diagnose deficiencies, cancers, and infections.
A blood sugar test screens you for diabetes or prediabetes. You might do a fasting blood sugar test, after fasting, or a random test. Your doctor will discuss your options and decide which one is best for you.
The lab test may include a lipid panel, which measures cholesterol. Over 94 million American adults have high cholesterol. And high cholesterol means a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Other lab tests might include STI panels, thyroid function, and vitamin level testing. These are not necessarily standard tests, so your doctor will offer them if needed.
How to Prepare for a Health Screening
Preparing for an annual checkup can be nerve-wracking! Do you eat or fast? How long should you fast? What do you wear, and should you take your medications?
It can be a confusing process, so let’s break down what to do before, during, and after your medical screening.
The first step is making your appointment. Contact your regular physician’s office to set up a time. If you don’t have a family physician, contact your insurance provider for a list of clinics.
Then it’s time to gather your information and paperwork. Keep track of any issues or symptoms you want to discuss. Bring a record of any medications you take regularly and continue taking them before the exam. You’ll also want to disclose any surgeries, tests, or procedures you’ve recently done.
On the day of the medical screening, dress in comfortable clothing and avoid wearing excessive makeup and jewelry. You don’t need to fast unless your doctor has specifically told you to do so.
It’s essential to be honest and open during your medical screening. The physician may ask sensitive questions about drugs and alcohol, sexual history, and mental health. But answering truthfully allows your doctor to provide a higher level of care!
Be sure to also ask your physician any questions you may have. Even if something seems small or trivial, you need to bring it up if it concerns you.
You’ll receive your results a few days later, depending on your physician’s office. They will go over your results and explain each outcome. If there are areas that need improvement, they’ll work with you to create a comprehensive plan.
At this time, they might suggest getting follow-up tests and additional screenings. But if your results are good and your concerns have been answered, you’re free until next year!
Where Can I Do My Medical Testing?
Your primary care physician will likely perform your medical tests. The physical exam is performed in the office or clinic, but laboratory tests are often outsourced. You might need to visit a hospital or imaging center for your specialty exams.
Schedule Your Yearly Checkup!
For some, scheduling an annual medical screening can be annoying. For others, it can be downright scary. But when you become familiar with the process and its goals, a medical screening will be nothing to fear!
Getting a yearly checkup is for your own health and wellness. You’ll have your health questions answered in a safe space. It can also help you diagnose illnesses early on through blood tests.
Make sure Precision Labs is your blood test provider for accurate and timely results. Learn more about our services today!