Preventive Tests You Need

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My women patients are endlessly caring for others: children, partners, parents, and other family members. Right now, think about taking care of yourself.

Even if you’re eating well, exercising, and minimizing stress (all excellent for keeping healthy) there are certain preventive tests only your doctor can perform. When was your last Pap test and pelvic exam? Mammogram? Eye exam by an ophthalmologist?

Preventive care is an essential part of staying well. Many disorders can be effectively treated if identified early by tests such as these. Scan the list and see if you’re overdue for anything. You can also take the list to your doctor and ask how frequently she recommends testing.

Consider this a general guide to the most common preventive procedures—there are others your physician may recommend based on your unique health profile. Family history has a lot to do with preventive testing. If a parent had diabetes, for example, your doctor may recommend more frequent blood sugar tests.

Get on the phone right now and make that appointment…

Screening Tests and When to Have Them
A baseline test is the first time you have the test. It gives your doctor a result that she can compare with future tests.

Full physical exam–every two years until age 50; then annually.
Blood pressure–every two years if normal.
Cholesterol–every five years if normal.
Glucose (blood sugar)–every three years after age 45.
Hearing–every two years, especially after age 60.
Complete blood count–every five years after age 20.
Sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing–yearly if you’re not in a monogamous relationship (having sex with one person who is having sex only with you).
Stress test (treadmill)–baseline at age 50.
Vision (tested by an ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in eyes)–every five years; every two years after age 50.
Bone density–baseline at age 50.

Cancer Screening
Breasts

Self exam–every month after age 20.
Breast exam by doctor–every three years when you’re 20-40; yearly thereafter.
Mammogram–every one to two years after age 50.

Cervix
Pelvic exam with Pap test–every two years if results always normal; more often if results are abnormal.

Large intestine (colon) and rectum
• Colonoscopy (gives a view of the entire large intestine and rectum)–every five to 10 years after age 50.

Gastrointestinal tract
• Hidden blood in stool–every year after age 50.

Skin
• Self exam–every six months
• By a dermatologist (skin doctor)–every three years ages 20-40; yearly thereafter.

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