How Often Should You Have a Wellness Physical?

How Often Should You Have a Wellness PhysicalMany healthy people see a physician once a year, without fail, for an annual wellness physical. In some cases, the habit was developed years ago, when the medical community widely advocated a yearly exam for everyone. The underlying assumption was that, through this process, potential health problems would be identified and addressed at early stages to improve outcomes. In other words, by regularly attending to the body, it could run like a well-oiled machine.

Toward that end, the main goals of a routine physical were:

  • To identify risk factors for common chronic diseases
  • To detect health problems that have no apparent symptoms
  • To promote healthy behaviors
  • To update clinical data since the last checkup
  • To enhance the relationship between patient and doctor

In recent years, however, the paradigm has shifted. Instead of recommending routine physicals for healthy, asymptomatic adults under the age of 40, many medical authorities now emphasize the importance of seeing a doctor promptly when symptoms develop, with these visits supplemented by less-frequent “periodic health assessments.” As a general guideline, adults age 18 through 40 should have a physical performed every five years, and every one to three years thereafter. Of course, this recommendation does not apply to anyone who has been diagnosed with a disease, is at high risk for developing a disease, has signs or symptoms, or is taking prescription medication.

The main reason for the change in thinking is that most young adults are generally free from health issues that could be diagnosed through a physical examination alone. Instead, potential problems usually show specific signs or symptoms that would prompt an individual to seek medical attention. Additionally, the annual performance of many routine screening tests is generally not cost effective, and can lead to further testing that is sometimes both unnecessary and anxiety provoking.

For further information, or if you would like to see a doctor because you are experiencing symptoms or want to have a wellness physical, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. When you come to our walk-in clinic, you will be seen by a qualified doctor who has years of experience in identifying and treating many common illnesses and injuries, and no appointment is necessary.