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What happens during a standard medical exam?

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Quick Answer

During a standard medical exam, the physician records vital signs, listens to the heart and lungs, looks in the patient's mouth, physically feels the abdomen, and tests reflexes, according to WebMD. The physician also takes a health history and assesses the patient's general physical appearance. If the patient is male, the physician also examines external genitals and examines the prostate rectally. If the patient is female, the doctor checks the breasts and does a pelvic exam.

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Full Answer

Generally, a medical exam starts with the patient filling out forms about their health history, lifestyle and vaccinations, states WebMD. A nurse then checks the patient's weight, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and body temperature, and has the patient change into a gown. A physician then examines the patient.

The doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs for problems, states WebMD. He places a tongue depressor in the patient's mouth, and observes the mouth and throat. Special lights and scopes let the examiner see inside the ears, nose and eyes. The patient lies down while the doctor feels the abdomen for abnormalities and examines the reproductive organs. The doctor taps the patient's knee with a reflex hammer to test activity in the nervous system. The doctor also might examine the limbs, or have the patient move or walk to test balance.

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