Getting your each medical screening on time is an important part of staying healthy, especially as we grow older. That’s why we have put together a handy timeline to help you learn when and how often you should get your medical screenings.
Blood Pressure Screening
Why: Out of three adults in America, at least one has high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause fatal conditions. You should have your blood pressure checked more often if you have any of the following conditions: heart disease, diabetes, and/or kidney issues.
What it consists of: This is a very simple screening. Your blood pressure will be checked just like it is at a normal doctor’s visit. Since this visit focuses on your blood pressure results, you’ll want to prepare a little more. Be sure not to smoke or have any caffeine at least 30 minutes prior to your test. You’ll also want to relax for a few minutes before your screening begins.
Why: Women who are between 40 and 54 years old should have an eye exam at least every 2 to 4 years. Women who are between 55 and 65 years old should have an eye exam more often. However, if you have diabetes you should have an eye exam done at least once a year to watch for any conditions such as glaucoma.
What it consists of: There are many little tests that are performed during an eye exam. Each test evaluates a different part of your vision.
Why: Dental exams are part of basic dental hygiene. Your doctor might recommend that you have dental exams more frequently if you have certain conditions or risks of accumulating a condition.
What it consists of: Routine dental exams are normally just cleanings. Your dentist will clean the plaque that builds up on our teeth along with other things.
Pelvic/Pap Smear Exam
Why: Pelvic exams and pap smears are not only for the sexually active. In fact, they’re purpose is to monitor for possible cancers. Experts say when you turn 40 you can have a Pap smear completed every 3 years. However, having one done once a year is smarter if you have more than one sex partner. If you have a Pap smear and an HPV test done together, doctors say you can wait 5 years before you need another.
What it consists of: Your doctor will test for precancerous and cancerous cells on your cervix. They will scrape away cells and will then be examined for abnormality.
Why: Women who are 44 or older should have diabetes screening every 3 years. However, if you are overweight, you should be screened more often.
What it consists of: Usually, a fasting plasma glucose test is ran. For accurate results, you must fast for 8 to 12 hours prior to this blood test.
Why: Women should begin cholesterol screenings between ages 40 and 45. These screenings should be done once every 5 years. If you have heart disease, diabetes, and/or kidney issues you should get screenings more often.
What it consists of: These screenings are much like diabetes screenings. It is a blood test you must fast for.
Colon Cancer Screening
Why: You should get a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) once a year starting at age 50. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, your doctor might recommend getting screened earlier. You’ll also need a sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy every 10 years. Although, ulcerative colitis, family history of colorectal cancer, and adenomatous polyps are reasons to have screenings more often.
What it consists of: These types of tests are all different ways to detect colon cancer. The FOBT is basically a stool test. While sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies use tools to remove tissue from the colon and rectum so that it can be examined.
Why: Some say you should begin to have mammograms done at age 40, but some doctors will tell you to wait until your 50. Either way, you should have a mammogram done every 1 to 2 years to check for breast cancer. If your mom or sister has had breast cancer, you should begin getting mammograms earlier than the age they were diagnosed.
What it consists of: An x-ray of your breast is taken by way of mammography unit. The machine will take several images of your breast then they’ll do the same to the other.
Lung Cancer Screening
Why: You should be screened for lung cancer if you are between the ages 55 and 80 and if you smoke or if you have quit within 15 years.
What it consists of: The recommended screening for lung cancer is a LDCT, low-dose computed tomography. This machine takes an x-ray of your lungs with a low dose of radiation.
Why: Once you turn 60, you should receive the shingles vaccine to better your chances of not getting shingles. This is a once time vaccine and does not need to be repeated every year.
What it consists of: This is administered as a subcutaneous injection, much like a flu shot.