January is a time many people resolve to make improvements in their lives for the coming year. The New Year is also a great time to remember to make an appointment to see your doctor for a routine check up as well. Depending on your age and your sex, you should be sure that you are on track for certain health screenings. Here is a breakdown of what type of screening you should have and how often you should have it performed:
For both Men and Women:
• For all those over age twenty who have not had problems with cholesterol, have it checked at least every five years. Those who are controlling cholesterol with diet should be screened annually.
• Also every five years you should have your sugars checked unless you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Those persons who have either high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure should also be screened annually.
• Blood pressure should be monitored, so discuss how often you should be checked with your doctor.
• Starting at age fifty, all adults should begin screenings for colorectal cancer. Your doctor may recommend screenings sooner if again you are in a high risk category such as having inflammatory bowel disease or an immediate family member with the disease.
For Women Only:
• Despite some recent studies most experts still recommend annual mammograms for most women beginning at age forty. Those at a higher risk may need to begin mammograms sooner, but the pros and cons of this should be discussed with your doctor.
• Most experts also still recommend annual pap smears for women over the age of eighteen.
• Additionally, women should begin thyroid checks around age thirty if not in a high risk category.
For Men Only:
• Men need to discuss their risks of developing prostate cancer with their doctor and understand the benefits of screenings and testing based on age, race, and family history.
It is so important for patients to take some responsibility in their own health care. Don’t wait until something bad happens to see your doctor. Let the beginning of the New Year stand as a reminder to have a health screening. Talk with your doctor about any concerns you may have, and be sure to understand your risk factors for developing serious conditions like heart disease and cancer. Implement a plan for preventative care that includes not smoking, a healthy diet, exercise, and stress relief. Remember the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” You will be guaranteed a happier New Year if you do.