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How Often Should You Get a Physical? It Depends

Around 44 million Americans get annual physicals, and 92 percent of people surveyed feel it’s important to get annual physicals. Have you scheduled yours yet?

Most of us only go to the doctor when something is wrong. It is important to see your doctor for a physical to help prevent future health issues, establish baselines, and strengthen the relationship with your doctor. 

So, how often should you get a physical?  It depends; let us explain.

Why Should You Get a Physical?

Annual physicals can help your doctors catch diseases and conditions early on. Some of these problems have no symptoms, but the routine exam offers tests to detect any changes. 

As mentioned above, you can also establish a baseline, so your doctor can note any changes to your health. You can also detect changes in the early stages for a quicker diagnosis and treatment.

You can also build a relationship with your doctor and determine the best treatment for you and discuss the best lifestyle choices to keep you healthy. 

So, How Often Should You Get a Physical?

Everyone is different, so everyone has different medical needs. Your physical schedule truly depends on your situation and may differ from someone else the same age as you. 

If you are generally healthy, you may need only preventative screenings recommended on your age.  Here is a general idea for a healthy adult:

  • Ages 19-21 years: once every 2-3 years
  • Ages 22-30: once every 2-3 years
  • Ages 30-40: once every other year
  • Ages 40-50: once every other year 
  • Over 50: once every year

If you have risk factors for conditions or smoke, your doctor will most likely suggest you come in more often. For example, if you are one of the 150 million Americans that have a chronic condition like depression, heart disease, or diabetes, you will probably need a different and more frequent physical exam schedule.

Schedule a Physical

There are a few guidelines everyone should follow when scheduling a physical. You should have your blood pressure checked every two years, and you also should make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date.

After age 40:

  • Screen your cholesterol every 5 years
  • Screen for colorectal cancer or have a colonoscopy every 10 years

After age 55:

  • Get lung cancer screenings if you currently smoke or were a previous smoker
  • Get an annual shingles vaccination after 60
  • Have a pneumococcal vaccination after 65

Women should:

  • Get a pap smear every 3 years between 18 and 29 and every 5 years between 30 and 49
  • Talk to your doctor about mammograms at 40 and start a plan
  • Have a bone density test after 50

Men should:

  • Follow general guidelines until age 50
  • Have a bone density exam at age 50
  • Talk to your doctor about prostate cancer screenings
  • Get an ultrasound for abdominal aortic aneurysms after age 65 if you smoked

Your doctor may also suggest urine screening and EKG screenings if there are any risk factors for heart disease.

Your doctor will also check all your vitals and possibly draw blood for further screenings. This is also a good time to discuss any mental health concerns.

The Importance of Getting Physicals

So, how often should you get a physical? Really it’s up to your age and your health. Talk to your doctor to determine the best screenings based on your health, family history, and any other risk factors.

We can help you with physical exams for work or school. If you need any of these services, call us today at 225.963.9034 or just walk in! We are here for you.