A regular health check is a test of one’s own body to screen for signs of illness and identify risk factors for certain diseases. Preventative healthcare or routine medical care can help ward off potential future illnesses.
Anyone can benefit from a regular health checkup, regardless of age or gender. By getting screened for various diseases and conditions, you can take steps to prevent or treat them before they become serious. The following are some screening tests all individuals should consider as part of their regular health check.
Blood sugar level testing
Checking blood sugar levels via finger stick or with a machine is advised for all individuals diagnosed with diabetes and those at risk for developing the disease, including anyone over the age of 45, overweight, and having a family history of diabetes.
Cholesterol level testing
High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Cholesterol levels should be checked at least every five years for individuals over 20. It’s important to monitor cholesterol levels because they can be lowered through diet and exercise.
Colorectal cancer screening
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Screening tests such as a colonoscopy or fecal occult blood test should be done every ten years, beginning at 50.
A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer involving an x-ray of the breasts. Mammograms are recommended every two years for women over the age of 40.
Regular dental checkup
A dental checkup should be scheduled every six months for all individuals, regardless of age. The dentist will examine the teeth and gums for signs of decay or gum disease during a dental checkup. This checkup is important, especially to children and teens, who are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease.
Annual physical exam
A physical exam is a checkup of the whole body. The doctor will check height, weight, blood pressure and listen to your heart and lungs. Depending on your age and health history, you may also have other tests, such as a Pap smear or mammogram. Employers require an annual physical exam to comply with health and safety regulations.
A pap smear screening test for cervical cancer involves collecting cells from the cervix to be examined under a microscope. Pap smears should be done every three years for women between 21 and 65.
Skin cancer screening
Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. It is recommended that all adults perform regular skin self-exams and see a dermatologist yearly if they notice any changes or abnormalities on their skin.
Screening for vascular disease, particularly blockages in the coronary arteries, can be done via ultrasound of blood vessels in the neck, wrist, and ankle. This test is typically recommended for those over 65 or those with a family history of heart disease.
Cervical cancer screening
Cervical cancer screening should be done every three years for women between 21 and 65. Cervical cancer affects the cervix, the lower part of the uterus. The most common way to screen for cervical cancer is with a pap smear, which collects cells from the cervix to be examined under a microscope. Cervical cancer can be prevented with regular cervical cancer screenings and the HPV vaccine.
Diabetic retinopathy screening
A diabetic retinopathy screening, also known as an eye exam for diabetics, is recommended yearly for individuals with diabetes. During the exam, your retina will be checked to determine if there are any signs of diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the small blood vessels in the retina. Early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can help prevent vision loss.
A sensory screening is recommended yearly for children between the ages of three and five. During the test, your child’s hearing, vision, and ability to control eye muscles will be tested. A child with any abnormalities should be referred to an ophthalmologist or audiologist.
Vaccination and examination
All individuals should receive the recommended vaccinations for their age and health history. Additionally, all adults should have an annual physical exam to check height, weight, blood pressure and listen to their heart and lungs. This checkup is important, especially to children and teens, who are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease.
While it is important to be screened for various diseases regularly, it is also necessary to see your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms. Symptomatic care can often lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. For more information on regular health checks, speak with your healthcare provider.