It’s never too early — or too late — to think about your health. Regular screenings and preventive care are the best ways to stay on top of your health and can help you detect potential problems before they become serious.
There are several screenings and preventive measures you can take, depending on your age, gender, and health history. Here’s a guide to some of the most important health screenings and preventive measures you can take to maintain your health:
Blood Pressure Screening
High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so getting screened regularly is important. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. Some preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of high blood pressure include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress.
High cholesterol doesn’t usually have any symptoms, which is why it’s important to get screened. High cholesterol can lead to several life-risking diseases. A simple blood test can tell you what your cholesterol levels are.
If your cholesterol level is high, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medication to help lower it. You may need to get tested more often to see how well the treatment is working.
Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, but it is also one of the most treatable when caught early. A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to check for polyps or other abnormalities in the colon.
Most people should start getting screened for colon cancer at age 50, but your doctor may recommend earlier screening if you have a family history of the disease.
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It’s used to look for early signs of breast cancer, such as tumors that cannot be seen or felt. Women over the age of 50 should get a mammogram every two years.
Women at high risk for breast cancer (such as those with a family history of the disease) may need to get screened more often. Your doctor can help you determine how often you should get a mammogram based on your risk factors.
If a lump is found in your breast, the doctor might suggest an MRI in addition to a mammogram. You even have the option of getting an upright MRI in case you have claustrophobia.
A Pap smear is a test that looks for abnormal cells in the cervix. These cells can sometimes turn into cervical cancer. The Pap smear can also find HPV, a virus that can cause cervical cancer.
All women should start getting Pap smears at age 21. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should get a Pap smear every three years. After age 30, women may be able to get screened less often if they have had three normal Pap smears in a row.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men. The prostate is a gland that produces some fluid in semen. It’s located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
There are two main tests used to screen for prostate cancer:
- The digital rectal exam (DRE):The doctor places a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or abnormal regions in the prostate.
- The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: The PSA level in the blood is measured using this blood test.. A high level of PSA may be a sign of prostate cancer.
Men over the age of 50 should talk to their doctor about whether they should be screened for prostate cancer. Men at high risk (such as those with a family history of the disease) may need to get screened more often.
It’s not just about the physical health screenings, but mental health is important to maintain as well. Depression is a common mental disorder that can cause serious symptoms. These symptoms can affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working.
Depression screening is a way to check if you are experiencing symptoms of depression. A depression screening may be done through a written questionnaire or a face-to-face interview with a mental health professional.
Everyone goes through tough times, but if you’re feeling down for more than two weeks, you may have depression and should talk to your doctor about getting screened.
There are many health screenings and tests that you can get to help detect potential health problems early. Early detection is key to preventing many serious health problems. Be sure to talk to your doctor about which screenings and tests are right for you.