Understanding Medical Problems

Is It True You Don't Really Need An Annual Physical Exam?

For a long time, experts recommended people get annual physical exams. The idea was to prevent disease by catching problems (e.g. hypertension, chronic high blood sugar) early so patients can correct them before they turn into serious issues (e.g. heart disease, diabetes). However, recent studies indicate a yearly physical exam may not be necessary. Here's more information about this issue and what you should do instead.

Annual Exams May Be Detrimental to Healthy Patients

Over the years, several studies were conducted to determine the efficacy of annual physicals on human health. To the surprise of many, it was concluded that these exams didn't help patients as much as previously thought and may even cause more problems.

For example, a review of 16 trials found that annual physical exams resulted in more diagnosis for disease but did nothing to reduce patient mortality or morbidity. Other experts have proposed that these exams may even cause patients to worry when they don't need to and even lead to unnecessary testing, which wastes time and money. Eventually, the Society of General Internal Medicine recommended generally healthy people without any symptoms skip the periodic physical altogether.

It does need to be pointed out that people who are healthy can probably go without seeing their doctors for yearly exams. Those with chronic or serious medical conditions, on the other hand, should continue to meet with their doctors on a regular basis to monitor the disease and/or their progress.

The Alternative is to Get Screened for Specific Concerns

Instead of a general exam, people should get physicals that screen for specific concerns related to their age, sex, ethnicity, or current health status. These can be more effective at detecting disease and helps you save money by ensuring you only get the tests you need.

For example, women should start getting annual mammogram screenings for breast cancer starting at age 45, and sometimes earlier if they have a family history of the disease. People who are overweight and sedentary should get screened for heart disease and diabetes on a regular basis, as excess weight makes a person more susceptible to developing these conditions. Men should be screen for colorectal cancer starting at age 50.

Your family doctor can tell you which physicals and screenings are appropriate for you based on your medical history and other factors. For more information, contact a business such as Woolbright Corp Of Boynton Beach.