Symptom: Checkup

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    Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP


    In the past, most medical groups advocated an annual health exam. However, more recently, the American Medical Association and other similar groups have moved away from the yearly exam. They now suggest that medical checkups be referred to as Periodic Health Assessments or Examinations and that they be performed every five years (for adults over 18) until age 40 and every one to three years thereafter. The requirements are for more frequent evaluations for those taking prescription medications.Most people younger than 40 years of age are generally free from diseases that could be diagnosed by physical examination alone. In this age group, health problems usually show specific signs or symptoms that would prompt you to seek medical attention. Also, a lot of the testing that was done routinely in the past has not been found to be cost effective and, in some cases, causes unnecessary additional testing and anxiety.
    • Purpose of the periodic health examination
      • As primary prevention
      • To identify risk factors for common chronic diseases
      • To detect disease that has no apparent symptoms (secondary prevention)
      • As a way for the doctor to counsel people to promote healthy behavior
      • To update clinical data since last checkup
      • To enhance the relationship between you and your doctor


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