Don't neglect your health! These key points on The Importance of Getting an Annual Medical Exam also include vital questions you should ask your doctor at your next check-up.
Getting a check-up is so important, but many of us neglect to go to the doctor unless we have symptoms or are ill in some way. Preventative medicine is not only urged but usually paid for by many insurances now, another reason why making it a priority to get a yearly exam is crucial. Let's look at some of the things you should ask for at your yearly checkup depending on your age and The Importance of Getting an Annual Medical Exam.
The Importance of Getting an Annual Medical Exam
Here are the reasons why yearly exams are so important:
Your doctor will be able to see and detect potential issues based on tests she or he runs. At yearly exams, your doctor has a chance to do breast exams, blood tests, and physical exams such as those that check cholesterol, blood sugar, white blood counts, and stuff like weight and balance. All of these things can be an indicator or something going on if combined with other symptoms that you may see as minor.
You will have an opportunity to discuss your family history. Most of us have a family history or life-threatening conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart failure. You may not realize what your personal risk is if you don't discuss it with your doctor. Having a yearly exam allows you to spend that time discussing your family history and personal risk so your doctor can order the right tests.
This gives you a chance to talk about issues you may think are too minor to make appointments for and get proper advice. If nothing else, this yearly checkup allows you some time to discuss minor things you may not make an appointment for and either put your mind at rest or look deeper if your doctor thinks this could indicate something bigger. It also gives you a chance to discuss things like you moods (indicating depression and anxiety that can be treated) as well as your diet.
While it is true you don't need some of these tests yearly, it is important they be done at the proper markers. Depending on your age, Here are some tests to ask for at your yearly exam:
Women in their 20's: Blood pressure screenings at least once every 2 years, get a pap test done every 3 years if you have normal readings, check your cholesterol yearly if you are at increased risk, skin cancer screening if you have moles that change or are fair skinned starting at age 20 and every 5 years. Also make sure to get STD screenings if you are sexually active at least yearly even if you have no symptoms, yearly eye exam.
Women in their 30's: Blood Pressure screenings at least once every 2 years, a pap test every 5 years if you have normal results in the past as well as an HPV test, diabetes screening if your blood pressure is over 135/80, HIV test, yearly eye exam.
Women in their 40's: Blood Pressure screenings at least once every 2 years, Mammogram once in your 40's if you are at increased risk, pap test every 5 years if you have normal readings, Cholesterol test done yearly, get screened for diabetes if you are increased risk yearly, yearly eye exams.
Women in their 50's: Blood Pressure screenings every 2 years, screening colonoscopy at age 50, Cholesterol profile tests yearly, diabetic screening yearly if at increased risk, every 1-2 year mammograms depending on risk, pap tests combined with HPV tests every 3 years if you have a cervix, Bone density test if you are at increased risk at least once in your 50s, yearly eye exam.
Women in their 60's and beyond: Blood Pressure screenings every 2 years or every year if you have slightly elevated pressure, screening colonoscopy as often as your doctor recommends, yearly cholesterol profiles, yearly mammograms, pap tests with HPV tests every 3 years if you have a cervix, bone density screenings for everyone by age 65, Diabetes screenings yearly, Fecal occult blood testing yearly, hearing test annually starting at age 65, yearly eye exam.
You can also take some precautions at home so you know when to visit a doctor if something is not right or you feel symptoms. Here are some things you should be doing at home and symptoms you should never ignore no matter what your age:
Self- breast exams monthly are important. Here is a good article with graphics on how to do one at home from BeastCancer.org.
Symptoms you should never ignore at any age include unexpected and unexplained rapid weight loss or gain, severe stomach pain, breathlessness for no reason, severe (non-diagnosed migraine) headache, snoring not due to cold, or dark, tarry or bloody stools. You should also see a doctor if you experience severe long-term thirst not related to weather or exercise, regular heartburn, and long term achy muscles and joints.
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