Many people make resolutions to improve their health in the new year, but making healthy changes goes beyond exercise and diet; you should be staying on top of your medical visits too.
Here are seven appointments that you should schedule now to stay ahead of chronic illnesses, disease risks, and general health complications.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. You can greatly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer through lifestyle changes, but it’s still important to get screened starting at age 45 because colon cancer may not have any symptoms until the later stages of cancer’s growth. The frequency at which you need a colonoscopy is determined by your doctor, depending on your risk factors and the initial test findings. Expect one screening at least every ten years if the test is clean.
Your teeth and gums can change as you age, so a routine dental appointment is important to stay ahead of gum disease and prevent cavities that can turn into a painful and costly issue later. X-rays at the dentist can reveal layers of your mouth you can’t reach or access. Be sure to schedule well ahead of time as routine dental appointments tend to book out months in advance.
It’s important to take care of your skin daily to keep it clean and protected from environmental aggressors, such as pollution and UV rays. Whether or not you’ve noticed any moles or strange spots on your skin, it’s a good idea to have a dermatologist examine your skin for abnormalities you may not be able to see at least once a year. They’ll look out for the ABCDEs: asymmetry, borders, color, diameter, and evolution (anything changing or growing). What appears to be a simple bump could be worth having tested, as skin cancer can be easy to remove when it is caught in its early stages. A dermatologist can also recommend effective strategies and products to protect your skin going forward.
Diabetes can present itself at any age and in anybody, but despite the presence of symptoms, you should begin routine screenings by age 35. If you have a direct relative with diabetes, you will likely need screenings sooner. The screenings for diabetes is a simple blood test, known as an A1C test, that measures your blood sugar levels. If you find out that you are prediabetic or have diabetes, it’s important to work with your doctor for guidance developing an exercise and eating plan.
Breast cancer is still a leading cancer diagnosis in women. While breast cancer research has progressed and treatments have become more advanced, it’s of the utmost importance for women aged 40 and over, and those with a family history, to have an annual mammogram exam. You should self-examine at least once a month, but sometimes lumps and bumps can be hidden, which can be made visible through a mammogram. If you haven’t had a mammogram yet and you’re approaching or are older than 40, ask your doctor for a referral. Additionally, you can inquire about genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to reveal your risk and help you make an informed decision regarding your breast health.
You can use your eyes to see the world around you, but you can’t see what’s going on behind your eyes. When your vision is declining, it’s a given that you’ll want to get a vision exam to update your prescription. However, an annual eye exam often includes the option to screen for glaucoma and other eye diseases, which is especially important to do as your eyes age. When you schedule your annual eye exam, be sure to ask if your insurance covers these tests or how much additional cost to expect. Typically, the optometrist will have you look into a machine that blows a warm burst of air and light toward your eyes. This painless, quick procedure will give you peace of mind that your eyes are functioning at their best.
Bone density scan
Contrary to popular belief, osteoporosis can effect any person at any age. If you have a family history, experts recommend testing every one to two years beginning at age 45 or with the onset of menopause in women. The scan is known as DEXA—a type of low-dose x-ray test that measures calcium and other minerals in your bones to test their thickness and strength. By doing this easy test, you can stay informed about your bone health and help prevent fractures and breaks down the road.
Challenge yourself to take care of your whole body this year by scheduling these appointments and staying connected with your healthcare team.