Well checks and screenings aren’t just for babies and toddlers. Checkups at every age are so important, and it is just as important for us adults to visit the doctor regularly and know which health screenings should be performed at all ages for both men and women. As we grow older, our necessity and number of screenings increase and vary depending on our gender, but we should always continue the screenings that we began when we were younger.
The importance of regular health screenings cannot be overstated, said Katherine Huber, M.D., an internal medicine physician for UF Health Internal Medicine at Springhill and Tower Hill.
“These screenings are so vital because it allows us as health care providers to pick up abnormalities or problems at an early stage when conditions are much more treatable,” Huber said. “As a primary care physician, I can assuredly say that regular preventive screenings are a key to ensuring good health.”
WOMEN 20-40 YEARS OLD
Breast clinical exams
These are typically administered annually at a women’s well check. Risk factors may necessitate further testing like breast ultrasounds or mammogram.
Pelvic exams and pap smears
Family history and past history of irregular pap
smears will alter at what interval exams should be recommended. Doctors may recommend a one-to-three- year interval between tests, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Thyroid stimulating hormone test
This test looks for an under-active or overactive thyroid and may be done every three to five years. Those who have risk factors such as a family history of thyroid disease or an autoimmune disease may need this test sooner and more often.
WOMEN 40-60+ YEARS OLD
Mammograms should be administered annually to test for early signs of breast cancer.
Ovarian screenings should be performed every three years for postmenopausal women.
MEN 20-40 YEARS OLD
Testicular exams are typically done by men themselves at home. Doctors recommend men at this age regularly check their testicles and visit their health care provider if they notice any irregularities such as any lumps or swelling, according to the Mayo Clinic. Clinical testicular exams should be performed every three years by your primary care physician.
MEN 40-60+ YEARS OLD
Prostate screenings should be performed every three years by your primary care physician or more often depending on risk factors such as family history and previous prostate conditions. Risk factors will also decide at what age these screenings should begin.
20-40 YEARS OLD
ANNUAL WELL VISITS with a primary care physician are recommended. They can cover personal history, health counseling, mental health and any diet and exercise updates.
DENTAL VISITS should occur once or twice a year for an exam or cleaning. Follow-up visits may be needed.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENINGS should occur at least once every two years. The American Heart Association’s guidelines state that if the top number (systolic number) is between 120 to 139, or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 to 89 mm Hg, you should have it checked every year. The ideal reading would be about 120 over 80.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENINGS should begin somewhere in this age range. If levels are normal, they do not need to be checked again for five more years.
TYPE 2 DIABETES SCREENINGS may occur if your blood pressure is 140/80 mm Hg or above. If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and have other risk factors for diabetes, you should be screened. If you have other risk factors for diabetes, such as a history of heart disease or weight gain, your provider will likely screen you for diabetes.
EYE EXAMS should happen by an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years if you have vision problems. Have an eye exam at least every year if you have diabetes.
SKIN EXAMS should be administered at home regularly and by a dermatologist every one to two years for a full skin screening. According to the American Cancer Society, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
“Especially living in Florida, where so much of our lives are outdoors, it is vitally important for people to screen their own skin and be vigilant about visiting a dermatologist with any suspicious skin lesions,” Huber said.
40-60 YEARS OLD
In addition to the ones listed above
FECAL OCCULT BLOOD TESTS should occur between 40-50 years old (for early signs of colon cancer). Patients should talk to their physician for their risk factors for colon cancer. Doctors may recommend a blood test that looks for the carcinoembryonic antigen chemical, which is produced by colon cancers. Patients with family history or other factors may need a colonoscopy sooner.
COLONOSCOPIES should begin at age 50 and done every 10 years. Risk factors like family history and previous colorectal
or inflammatory intestinal conditions may necessitate earlier screenings or more frequent occurrences.
CORONARY SCREENINGS are done to assess heart health and may begin at age 40 or 50 depending on risk factors. They include a variety of tests. In addition to blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, it may include tests like electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), which measure the electrical activity of the heart and reveals information on heart rate and rhythm; exercise cardiac stress test; and echocardiography, which uses ultrasound to create moving pictures of the heart. Johns Hopkins Medicine also recommends a coronary calcium scan, which provides images of your coronary arteries that show existing calcium deposits. Known as calcifications, these deposits are an early sign of coronary artery disease.
HEARING TESTS should begin and be performed every 10 years. Patients who detect symptoms of hearing loss such as muffled sounds, struggling to understand speech, or tinnitus (ringing of ears), should visit an ear/nose/throat doctor.
In addition to the ones listed above
BONE DENSITY TESTINGS are performed every two to three years to assess bone health and strength. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, these screenings should begin at age 65 for women and age 70 for men.
VACCINATION BOOSTERS include a herpes booster to prevent shingles and a pneumonia booster.