You might feel like you don’t need to see your doctor on a regular basis unless you are sick or you have a chronic health condition. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Part of the reason why regular doctor visits are recommended is because health experts are trained to detect problems and prevent them based on your family history and health status. Some routine tests are a prime first step in getting on top of your health and making sure you live a long life. This year is the perfect time to schedule the following tests.
1. Get Your Cholesterol Checked
High cholesterol can be a bad thing as it contributes to heart disease. A simple blood test can tell your doctor whether your cholesterol is normal or too high. Once you have this vital information, you and your physician can work together to create a lifestyle and medication regiment that can help you stay healthy.
2. Have Your Blood Pressure Measured
Getting a blood pressure reading involves a quick and painless cuff being wrapped around your upper arm and then being inflated. However, the results can be quite powerful in terms of your health. High blood pressure, or low blood pressure, for that matter, can indicate health conditions that need treatment. You should get yours checked every couple of years.
3. Schedule a Pap Smear This Year
It used to be that you had to have a Pap smear every year, but new guidelines say that can be stretched to two or three years if you have normal results and no gynecological health conditions. A Pap smear looks for things like reproductive abnormalities, STDs and cervical cancer. Your first Pap smear should be done by age 21, but it’s never too late to get on top of your reproductive health, so schedule yours today.
4. It Might Be Time for a Mammogram
A mammogram is done to look for breast cancer and other breast related health issues, such as cysts or benign tumors. A manual breast exam should be done at least every couple of years by your OB/GYN, but if you are age 40 or older, you should add a mammogram to your yearly tests. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but it can save your life.
5. Have a Dermatologist Give Your Skin a Once over
This is especially important if you have a history of skin cancer or a skin specific health issue. Your dermatologist will check for lesions or moles on your body that could be cancerous. She can also help you control things like acne, rosacea and eczema. Ideally, you should see yours at least once a year for a skin test.
6. Get Your Teeth Checked
Technically, you should see your dentist for a cleaning every six months, but once a year is better than nothing. At your yearly dental exam, your dentist will probably take X-rays to be sure your teeth are healthy. She will also look for signs or oral cancer as well as cavities or problems with your gums.
7. You Should Definitely Know Your BMI
The acronym BMI stands for body mass index. This is a measuring of your weight and how it relates to your height. A BMI that is too high indicates that you are too heavy and could be at risk of health issues that come with being overweight. On the other hand, a low BMI also presents health risks. Your doctor should help you determine your BMI once a year.
8. Get Your Eye Exam
If you have vision problems you should probably get your eyes checked at least every two years, unless you wear contacts which has always been every year for me. People with diabetes especially need their eyes checked once a year or more.
9. Diabetes Screening
If you have high blood pressure or a high BMI your doctor will likely schedule a diabetes check for you to make sure your blood sugar levels are still okay. If you have family history or feel you might have it even without being overweight, it doesn't hurt to tell your doctor about symptoms and ask for a screening.
Yes, even adults need shots. You should be getting a TdAP (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) booster every 10 years after age 19. If you've never received the chicken pox vaccine you should get that as well. You could need an MMR vaccine or other immunizations depending on what your doctor feels necessary; yearly flu shots are always a good idea also!
Which of these tests do you need to schedule in 2017?