How Often Should an Adult Get a Physical Exam?

12/04/2019
Learn why and how often an adult should get a physical exam - MD 365

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Every year, children under the ages of 18 receive their annual physicals. However, when adults turn 18, begin to have families, or are busy living productive lives, they often forget about the importance of a physical exam. Like children, adults need to receive a health checkup on a regular basis.

3 Guidelines for Annual Physicals

The primary factors that influence how often adults should receive a physical exam are age, disease, and current medications. With these factors in mind, there are three general guidelines that will help adults determine how often they need to have a physical exam.

  • Adults under the age of 30 who are healthy, do not have disease risk factors, and are not on prescription medications can typically have a checkup once every two to three years. It is important to note that women who are sexually active will need to have a Pap smear beginning at age 21. The results of the Pap smear, as well as the doctor recommendation, will determine how often women should have a physical exam.
  • Adults who are ages 30 to 40, in good health, not on prescription medications, and do not have disease risk factors should have their annual exam every other year. This is often the time in life when women start having mammograms as a precautionary step.
  • Adults who are 40 and older should typically have annual physicals. This is also the time when both men and women typically have colonoscopies to screen for colon cancer.

It is important to note that the above guidelines are general rules that may or may not apply to your specific health care needs. The good news is that many insurance policies cover annual exams, which means that even if you are healthy, you can gain the peace of mind you need by visiting your primary care or internal medicine doctor on a yearly basis.

What Should You Expect During Annual Physicals?

Your doctor will help you decide how often you should have a checkup so that you can remain healthy and take any precautionary steps needed to reduce your risk of certain diseases, such as cancer or diabetes. With this in mind, annual physicals typically have the following components.

  • A general health checkup that includes a review of your medical history, vitals check, and other medical screenings
  • A pelvic exam
  • A Pap smear (for women only)
  • Blood tests including STI and STD screening (as requested and/or needed) and a full metabolic panel
  • Q&A with your doctor to answer any of your specific medical concerns

Physical exams are also completed when you begin a new position, apply for life insurance, start a new sports league, or are planning extensive travel abroad. At MD 365, we conveniently offer pre-employment physicals, DOT physicals, and annual physicals. No matter your needs, our team of doctors is standing by to help you live your healthiest life.

Schedule Your Physical at MD 365

Illness and injury can occur when you least expect it, which is why you should take a proactive approach to your health by scheduling a physical exam. For your convenience, we are open every day and offer both walk-in and appointment-based services. Contact us today to learn more about our health services or to book an appointment for your annual physical.