We are often required to undergo a physical exam before obtaining employment, education, or even before travelling, in some cases. Physical exams at least once a year are also recommended for everyone, especially for people above the age of 50. Through this, possible diseases can be prevented, various abnormalities in the body can be detected early, diagnosed, and treated, and our overall health will be assessed.
Examining the insides of our organs also fall under physical tests — physical and visual examinations, to be exact. These types of tests may involve surgery, so they’re usually performed on people who are experiencing symptoms and those who are already diagnosed with a particular illness. Doctors may extract tissue samples or simply monitor bodily functions through radiological tests, among others.
The following are common physical tests — starting from the basic ones down to the most complex — that detect and diagnose problems in the body:
Doctors first use a stethoscope on physical exam patients to listen to the sounds of their heartbeat, lungs, and intestines. Possible issues can be detected through the abnormal sounds these body parts produce.
A “percussion” test refers to a doctor tapping a patient’s body like a drum in order to detect fluid in areas where it isn’t supposed to be. It also tests borders, consistency, and sizes of the organs.
3. Height, Weight, and Pulse Examinations
Doctors also measure a patient’s height, weight, and pulse. It determines if height and weight are at ideal figures and whether the pulse beats too slow or too fast.
4. Bodily Fluid Examinations
Bodily fluids are blood, urine, fluids surrounding the spinal cord and the brain (cerebrospinal fluid), and fluids within the joints (synovial fluid). Sweat, saliva, and digestive tract fluids are also included, but they’re analysed less often. Some fluids are also only present when a patient is ill, such as fluids collecting in the abdomen.
Routine blood tests can detect various issues in our health. There are a total of 10 important blood tests, each with varying functions such as cancer detection, kidney disease detection, cholesterol level measurements, thyroid health assessment, and STD (sexually-transmitted diseases) detection.
5. Pap Smear
All women who are at least 21 years old are advised to have a pap smear, a test that takes a secretion from the cervix in order to detect cancer. Two specimens are obtained, the vaginal secretion and the scrapings from the surface of the cervix. A pap smear can detect malignant cells in the endometrium and the ovaries as well.
Imaging tests provide doctors with a picture of the inside of the body, either in its entirety or only some parts of it. X-ray is the most common imaging test, and the rest includes ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (commuted tomography) scan, ultrasonography, and mammography.
An endoscope, a medical device in the appearance of a tube with a light and a camera equipped, is used by doctors to directly examine an organ. It’s usually inserted in the nose to inspect the voice box and the lungs; in the mouth to check the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine; in the anus to scan the large intestine, rectum, and anus; in the urethra to probe the bladder, and in the genitals to examine the reproductive system.
In a biopsy procedure, a tissue from the body is taken to be examined under a microscope. A punch biopsy instrument may be used to remove tissue samples from the body quickly and precisely. Biopsy finds abnormal cells that can prove the presence of cancers.
While you don’t need to undergo each of these every year, it is important to visit your physician annually for a physical examination. If you’re experiencing any discomfort or symptoms, relay this to your physician immediately so they can perform the necessary tests.