Life is busy, no doubt about it. When schedules get overcrowded, the first thing usually neglected is ourselves and particularly our health. But not paying adequate attention to preventative screenings and health concerns isn’t going to make life any less chaotic. In fact, it will inevitably cause more stress than anything down the road. It is important that you find time for these necessary, often yearly appointments to assure that you are healthy to keep up with your active life.
Yearly (or so)
Primary Care Provider (PCP). An annual physical exam with your main physician works as an overall body assessment. These physicals often include medical history reviews, an examination of your entire body and organ systems, and advisement on medications, vaccinations, disease management, preventative health screenings and any necessary referrals.
Eye Doctor. You should have your eyes checked every one to two years. These regular exams maintain eye health. Associated Eye Care explains that many eye conditions, such as glaucoma and macular degeneration, can be silent in their early stages. If identified early in their course, these conditions can often be managed to prevent harm to your health and vision.
Dentist. The American Dental Association recommends dental cleanings/check-ups once or twice a year. Besides having your teeth cleaned, dentists also check for gum disease, tooth decay, impacted teeth, or tooth movement with X-rays.
Gynecologist. Beginning at age 21, women should begin seeing a gynecologist yearly, regardless of sexual activity. The exam will include a pap smear, HPV test, pelvic exam, and clinical breast exam. You might also have urine and blood taken to test for STIs, UTIs, and yeast infections.
Dermatologist. Schedule an annual, full-body skin check with a dermatologist. Besides examining your skin for any suspicious spots, they will review your medical history, especially if there is an existing family history of skin cancer.
Mental Health. Often overlooked are mental health exams. These assessments play as big a role as physical exams. Performed by your PCP (or psychologist, psychiatrist, if preferred), they might administer a physical exam, lab tests, mental and cognitive evaluations, plus inquire about your mental health and personal history.
Gastroenterologist. Adults should begin regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 45. This important screening can detect early signs of colorectal cancer and remove polyps and tumors. Work with your PCP to identify what type of test is best for you. They can prescribe one of the two available at-home tests or refer you to a gastroenterologist, a doctor with special training in colonoscopies.
Mammograms (Women). Women should begin having annual mammograms at the age of 40. Breast checks are usually part of gynecologist appointments, but regular mammogram appointments are important as they can detect abnormalities more deeply within dense breast tissue. Your PCP can refer you to an imaging center, such as Hudson Imaging, while also recommending the type of mammogram that would be the best option.
Hearing Test. From age 50 to 60, hearing tests every 3 years should be part of your healthcare routine. At age 60, regardless of whether you are experiencing symptoms, it is recommended that hearing tests be increased to yearly. Your PCP can often perform the exam or refer you to an audiologist or hearing specialist.
Rectal Exam/PSA Blood Test (Men). Unless you are high risk, this prostate cancer screen usually starts for men around age 50. It can be performed by your PCP and is a preventative screening.
Lung Screening. At approximately age 55, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly lung cancer screenings with low dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans. Your PCP will usually refer you to a pulmonologist for this procedure.
Osteoporosis/Bone Density Screening (Women). Starting at age 65, women should work with their PCP for a referral to an imaging center for a bone densitometry (or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, DEXA, or DXA) scan. Hudson Imaging explains the process as using a very small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body (usually the lower spine and hips) to measure bone loss.