Physical exam

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During a physical exam, a health professional looks at, listens to, and touches or gently presses on (palpates) the body. This exam helps the health professional determine the cause of symptoms, what other conditions may be present, and what medical tests may be needed. During a physical exam, the health professional may:

  • Take the person's temperature.
  • Listen to the heart and lungs.
  • Examine the eyes with an ophthalmoscope.
  • Examine the ears with an otoscope.
  • Touch or gently press on (palpate) the neck, underarms, abdomen, and groin.
  • Look at the skin.
  • Check the person's balance and coordination.



The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.