Annual Physical Exams: What to Expect

Health Education
November 9, 2020
2 min read
Annual Physical Exams: What to Expect

It is important to get an annual physical exam from your primary care doctor no matter how old you are. A physical makes sure that you are healthy with no hidden underlying issues. It is a time to ask any questions you may have and maintain a good relationship with your doctor. Here is what to expect during a routine physical exam.


Annual exams always start by going over your medical history. This is especially important if you are seeing a new primary care provider. Your doctor should know all about your health and any diseases that run in your family.  Knowing if you have a genetic predisposition to any illnesses is beneficial because your doctor can detect them early on. An annual physical exam may include tests for hereditary diseases, depending on your level of risk. 

Your doctor will also ask you general questions about your health, including things like diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol and drug use, and sexual health. You will get a chance to voice any concerns you have about your health or any changes you have noticed.  Informing your primary care provider of any and all medications you take is also important.

Vital Signs

Atypical physical exam involves a doctor or nurse checking all your vital signs to make sure everything is normal. This includes blood pressure, heartrate, respiration rate, and temperature.  You may also be weighed and measured. Children always have their height and weight recorded at check-ups.  Adults may only be weighed, as their height does not change as rapidly.

Heart, Lung, Head, and Neck Exam

At your annual physical exam, the doctor will check all your major organs, including listening to your heart and lungs with a stethoscope. The doctor will also check your throat, tonsils, ears, nose, and sinuses by looking in them with a bright light. He or she may also examine your lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries. A routine physical often includes an eye exam, where you read a chart from a distance away to determine if you need corrective lenses. Irregularities in any of these can lead to more tests or a referral to a specialist.

Appearance and Neurological Exam

Medical professionals can determine a lot just by looking at someone. They look at the healthiness of your skin and how you walk and talk. An annual physical exam will probably include a doctor or nurse testing your nerves, muscle strength, reflexes, and balance. This can include simple stretches and exercises in order to make sure that your muscles are working properly. Your checkup may also include an assessment of your mental state.

Age and Sex Specific Examinations

There are additional points that doctors may address in an annual physical exam, depending on the person. Children often need shots during their yearly checkups, as most vaccinations are given in doses over a number of years. Older adults may need additional tests done. Biological males may have a testicular exam, hernia exam, or prostate exam. Biological females may have a breast or pelvic exam as part of their yearly checkup. These assessments depend on the doctor as well as the patient and their medical history.

Annual Physical Exam Near Me

Looking for a physical exam near me but don’t yet have a primary care provider?  BASS Medical Group is here for you.  They provide routine care for people of all ages, including annual physical exams and vaccinations. Call (925) 350-4044 or visit them online to schedule an appointment at one of their conveniently located offices