Test in time
A thorough physical examination helps doctors assess the state of a patient’s mental and physical health.
Medical investigations help establish a diagnosis, evaluate the progress of the disease, or probe the effects and side-effects of treatments. Regular health check-ups help prevent lifestyle diseases and are crucial in diagnosing rare genetic and metabolic conditions.
- Neonatal Screening is done with a heel prick for blood tests, a hearing check, and pulse oximetry to rule out congenital heart disease.
- Well-child checkups : From birth to young adulthood, the child’s physical and mental development is charted. Specific screenings for anemia including thalassemia and juvenile diabetes are conducted. Autism Spectrum is also evaluated.
- Puberty: The child may need tests if puberty signs appear too early (before age 7) or are delayed. Obesity may hasten the onset of puberty. Blood tests for hormonal studies may be recommended in such cases.
- Teenage: Doctors may screen for sickle cell anaemia and metabolic syndrome. Teens with a high body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, with obesity, are prone to metabolic syndrome. High triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, or high fasting blood sugar, darkening of the skin around the neck and armpits are signs of insulin resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.
- Age 18 to 39: Blood pressure should be screened every 2 years. If systolic is between 120 to 139 or the diastolic is between 80 to 89 mm Hg, it should be checked annually. If systolic is greater than 140 or the diastolic is greater than 90, see your doctor.
Annual cholesterol screening is recommended between the ages of 20 – 45. Repeat tests only if your values are high.
Thyroid screening is recommended for obese women and patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Diabetes screening is recommended if blood pressure is 140/80 mm Hg or above, or for patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and/or a family history of diabetes and heart disease.
Regular consumers of alcohol must undergo a liver function test as well as sonography for fatty liver screening.
A dental visit at least once a year is recommended.
An eye exam is recommended every 4 years unless you are diabetic. Diabetic patients require an annual eye exam.
Women should self-examine their breasts every month. A mammogram is not recommended for women under age 40.
A pap-smear, HPV screening every 3-4 years after the age of 30 is recommended.
- Age 40 to 64 :
An annual blood pressure check is recommended. However, for patients with diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or those who are on steroid medication, blood pressure should be checked every 3 months.
Cholesterol Screening And Heart Disease Prevention
Blood cholesterol should be checked every 5 years. Patients with high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid, or kidney problems need to be screened more regularly.
After the age of 45, diabetes screening must be done once in 3 years.
More frequently for those who are overweight or have BP above 140/80 mm Hg.
Check Serum Creatinine if diabetic.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
If you’re under 50, your doctor can recommend the frequency of testing on the basis of your medical history. Your doctor is most likely to recommend :
Annual stool occult blood test.
Colonoscopy once every 10 years.
However, high-risk patients may be advised to undergo a colonoscopy more frequently by their physician.
Annual exam recommended.
An eye exam is recommended every 4 years between the age of 40 to 55 and, every 2 years for those between ages of 55 to 65 years to screen for cataracts, vision problems, or glaucoma.
An annual exam is recommended for diabetics.
Between ages 50-70, annual screening for osteoporosis along with serum Vit D3 and Vit B12 are recommended. All women over age 50 should get a bone density test (DEXA scan).
Long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, history of fractures after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis put you at a higher risk.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Annual screening for males above the age of 50 is recommended.
Health screenings for women ages 40 to 64.
Breast Cancer Screening
Women may do a monthly breast self-exam.
Women ages 40 to 49 may get a mammogram every 2 years. Women ages 50 to 75 should get a mammogram every year.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer screening should start at age 21.
Women between 30-65 should either get a Pap smear or the HPV test every 5 years.
After 70, screening is not required if the patient has had 3 normal tests in the past 10 years.
Precancerous patients who’ve been treated in the past must continue to get annual screenings till 65.
All women over age 50 with fractures should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).
65 years or older :
An annual screening would typically include :
- Weight and Height: Shrinking height could be a sign of osteoporosis.
Diabetes screening: If there are known risk factors
Mental health screening: Mental health assessment for depression and for Alzheimer’s disease
Blood Work may include :
- Complete Blood Count
- Serum Lipids
- Basic Metabolic Panel
- Thyroid Panel
- Liver Enzyme Markers
Fall Prevention Screening: muscle strength and balance is measured
Colorectal Cancer Screening: if not done previously.
In women :
Cervical Cancer Screening: Most women can stop having Pap smears if they have no history of cervical cancer. If a hysterectomy has taken place then no pelvic exam is necessary.
Osteoporosis Screening: Women are at higher risk for osteoporosis and will be screened regularly at this age.
In men :
Prostate Screenings: Continue annually.
Osteoporosis Screening: Every 5 years.
Seeing your doctor regularly and giving them all the information required is the best way to maintain a healthy mind and body.
DISCLAIMER: All tests should be done only and only after consulting a doctor.
To read more English blogs, visit our blog section.
Dr. Rekha Bhatkhande, MD