5 Things to Expect During Your Next Annual Check Up

5 Things to Expect During Your Next Annual Check Up

An annual checkup provides an insight into our current health state, which is helpful to detect or prevent the development of illnesses. 

Medical examinations vary according to your age, physical condition, and lifestyle. While there are standard procedures, they are not strictly applied to every patient. Instead, you can expect that a good doctor bases the examination on your concerns and clinical history.

If it is time for your annual check-up, here are 5 things about what to expect:

Health History

One important aspect of doing regular check-ups is to update your medical record. Whether you are in perfect health or not, your chart will provide an insight into the evolution of your health as you continue to age.

Doctors might require the following information:

  • Previous tests
  • Family history
  • Medications you are taking
  • Previous surgeries
  • Information about your lifestyle (exercise, eating habits, stress levels)
  • Body functions information (sight, hearing, urination, etc)

Vital Signs Check

Once your doctor updates the basic information in your record, they will proceed to check your vital signs. This process usually includes the next tests:

  • Heart Rate. For adults, a healthy heart rate is around 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, this might vary depending on age and habits. For example, professional athletes sometimes have lower rates than 60 bpm and they are healthy.
  • Respiratory Rate. The normal respiratory rate is between 12 to 16 breaths per minute.
  • Blood Pressure. The normal blood pressure rate is below 120/80 mmHg. Levels above 130/80 mmHg are a sign of hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Temperature. The average body temperature is around 98.6°F. However, over 100.4°F is considered a fever, which is an indicator of illness or infection.

Physical Examination

The standard process involves your doctor examining your skin condition, ears, eyes, nostrils, oral health, muscle strength, reflexes, and sensorial reactions, and balance. Depending on your age and gender, the physical exam might also include:


  • Mammogram. It is an x-ray screening to detect breast cancer. Recommended for women between 50 and 74 years old.
  • Breast exam. Aims to detect any abnormal lumps in the breasts or visual signs of breast cancer.
  • Pelvic exam. It is an examination of the vagina, vulva, and cervix. It is used to detect sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
  • Pap smear. It screens for cervical cancer or other cervical diseases. The Pap test is recommended for women between the ages of 21 to 65.


  • Testicular exam. Aims to detect testicular cancer by checking for lumps, size changes, or tenderness.
  • Penis exam. An examination to test sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
  • Prostate exam. It is done to detect cancer or abnormalities of the prostate.

Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests are not strictly necessary during annual check-ups. However, your doctor might require some of the following tests to complete your medical examination:

  • Complete metabolic panel
  • Complete blood count
  • Cholesterol test
  • Diabetes screen
  • Thyroid screen

Mental Health 

Committing to annual check-ups helps your doctor to provide a better assessment of your mental state. In a close patient-doctor relationship, it is easier to identify symptoms of anxiety or depression. 

Most commonly, people don’t reach for psychological help because it is easy to think these symptoms are normal. If your doctor sees depression symptoms, they can proceed to do a depression screening to confirm it. 

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