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Healthy You

Get the most out of your annual primary care visit

Thursday, August 03, 2023 11:23 AM

By Fayeza Mohammed, DO

Seeing your primary care physician every year, even when you’re feeling great, is an investment in your health.

Keeping track of your health over the years paints a picture of your overall well-being. And you and your doctor can see if anything changes or needs adjustment.

Along with an exam and conversation about how you’re feeling physically and emotionally, blood tests are often part of an adult’s routine check-up. At your annual visit, your doctor may order a blood draw to check your cholesterol, your blood count (includes number of red and white blood cells and platelets), and a basic metabolic or chemistry panel to get a better understanding of how your body is working.

For kids, an annual well child visit is essential to measure their growth and development as well as ensure their emotional health and keep them on track with vaccinations.

Children can also get a sports physical at this time if needed. A sports physical is an additional brief exam that ensures your child can safely participate in athletics. Many schools require a form signed by a physician confirming they’re healthy enough to play.

annual examSo, when you make your child’s annual appointment, make one for yourself.

Remember these tips to help you get the most out of your annual visit with your doctor:

  • Make a list of questions. Before you go, write down any aches, pains or other physical problems (such as fatigue or sleep difficulty), as well as any changes in your health that worry you. Having your questions written down ahead of time will ensure nothing is forgotten.
  • Write down any supplements and vitamins you regularly take so you can ask your doctor about how they might interact with any prescription medication.
  • Share your health goals. Say you want to quit drinking alcohol or smoking, lose weight or start working out. Your doctor can help you with that.
  • Be ready to answer your doctor’s questions. Your doctor will ask you about previous health issues, how you’re feeling emotionally, whether you’re exercising, if you’re smoking and about your eating and alcohol consumption habits. This information gives them a better understanding of your overall health and any potential risks.
  • Be honest. Answering your doctor’s questions truthfully will help your doctor determine what you need to do to stay healthy.
  • Ask about a follow-up. Before leaving, make sure you know when your doctor wants to see you again. Sometimes another annual visit is all the follow-up that’s necessary. And sometimes your doctor will want to follow up on a health issue sooner than one year.


With hundreds of board-certified physicians to choose from, you’re likely to find the perfect doctor for you close by. Find a doctor at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

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