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A Guide to Health Checkups for Today’s Preoccupied Adult

Updated on May 16, 2017
Doctors recommend regular checkups
Doctors recommend regular checkups

When you were little, your parents made sure you showed up to the doctor’s for your regular checkup, but as you got older, priorities shifted and your health screenings now come a distant fourth or fifth in your to-do list. Health experts have continually stressed that health exams are the surest way to identify and prevent potential risk factors before they become serious medical problems.

Diseases such as cancer and diabetes are far easier to manage if identified in the early stages, and in such cases treatment doesn’t cost a fortune. Ultimately, the best way to keep healthy and live a long life is to scan for potential health issues and follow your doctor’s recommendations for healthy living.

What The Average Doctor’s Visit Entails:

Factor such as your age, gender, and family medical history typically determine the nature of your checkup; however the following are characteristic of most health checkups.

  • Blood, urine (and sometimes stool sample)
  • Vision and hearing test
  • Blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol readings
  • Review of drug use (if any), diet, and exercise habits
  • Booster shots and relevant immunizations
  • Additional screenings to assess the risk of acquiring certain diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.
  • Blood test to check for STDs and possibly HIV (usually depends on age and sexual lifestyle)
  • Screening for colorectal cancer among individuals aged 50 and older
  • Overview of your stress levels and possibly a discussion about depression to further evaluate your mental health

Special Concerns For Men:

In addition to evaluating blood pressure, weight, and other regular issues, your doctor may also include the following:

  • From age 50 onwards (or younger for people with a family history), a rectal examination may be scheduled to check for unusual bumps in the prostate and a particular PSA (prostate specific antigen) test designed for cancer screenings.
  • From age 65 onwards, if you’ve had a history of smoking, an abdominal examination to inspect your aorta and a potential weakening of the aorta lining which often develops with age and can become serious.

Special Concerns For Women:

  • A pap smear (it’s a test for cervical cancer done once a year or once in two years)
  • Breast examination to check for lumps and other unusual bumps in your breasts that are characteristic of breast cancer. A mammogram test is done every two years for women aged 40 and older
  • From age 65, your doctor may plan a referral for a bone density examination to check for osteoporosis, a disease that causes fragile bones especially in older women.

Preparation For The Doctor’s Visit

You can get more out of your doctor’s visit by preparing and updating your family health history and learning more about general vaccinations and screenings so that you have a list of questions for any particular health concern. It’s perfectly okay to take notes if your doctor gives advice on specific health issues.

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