When to Get What Checked


Forsyth families are likely familiar with the back-to-school physical that is required when their child kicks off a new school year.  What they may not realize is that the annual physical for adults is just as important.  The idea is to catch any problems early, when there is the best chance to treat or manage them.  Doctors are often rushed, so it is best to plan anything of importance that you want to cover and bring a checklist with you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested some items to write down and discuss:

  • Share any changes in family health history since the last visit.
  • Learn of any screenings or vaccinations that are recommended.
  • Talk about body or skin changes.
  • Mention any changes in nutrition.
  • Tell about any menstrual cycle changes, pain or fatigue.
  • Share about any trauma, depression, anxiety or sleeping issues.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has made some recommendations for the special men in your life.

  • Get a hearing test at age 18, and then every ten years.
  • Visit a dentist once or twice a year.
  • Check blood pressure at least every two years; every four years between 40 and 49; every three years thereafter.
  • Get an electrocardiogram baseline at age 30.
  • Check cholesterol regularly starting at age 35, or younger if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease in your family history, or smoke(d).
  • Have a prostate-specific antigen blood test and digital rectal exam annually, starting at age 50, or 45 if you are considered to be a higher risk.
  • Know your body-mass index, which is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
  • Get tested for colorectal cancer starting at age 50, or earlier if you have a family history of this.
  • Test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Screen for depression.
  • Test for sexually transmitted infections.
  • Have a blood test and urinalysis every three years between 18 and 39; every two years between 40 and 49; and every year thereafter.
  • Have a monthly testicular exam.
  • Get an eye exam every 2 to 4 years.

Women’s health screenings can be done by an internist or gynecologist. Some of the important ones include:

  • Body mass index measurement starting at 18.
  • Checking blood pressure every two years, starting at age 20.
  • Checking cholesterol at least once every five years, starting at age 20.
  • Starting at age 21 through 65, getting a Pap smear every three years.
  • Having a blood-glucose test every three years, starting at 45, to screen for prediabetes or diabetes
  • Requesting a mammogram every two years, starting at 50.
  • Having a colon cancer screening at 50.
  • Having a bone-density test or DEXA scan at 65.
  • Getting a monthly self-skin-check.
  • Going to the dentist once or twice a year.

For kids, the checkup is pivotal in building a successful partnership between him or her and the pediatrician.  The pediatrician is his best ally for achieving good health.  The American Academy of Pediatrics named some benefits of the well-child visit, such as:

  • Getting scheduled immunizations to prevent illness.
  • Talking about issues such as nutrition and safety.
  • Tracking growth and development, like milestones, learning, and social behaviors
  • Addressing any concerns about development, sleep or getting along with peers.
  • Having a trustworthy relationship, so the pediatrician can do his part in developing optimal physical, mental and social health for the child.

While you may view spring as a time for cleaning and clearing clutter or planting new flowers to bloom, you may, even more importantly, want to give your health a push and shove.  With a renewed interest and energy toward wellness by getting the appropriate screenings, you will hopefully be able to lead a happier and healthier life.


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