It’s the time of year when we’re all thinking about tackling those cobwebs in the corners and springing for a fresh coat of paint. Why wouldn’t you do the same thing for your body? Use the spring season to take inventory of both your medicine cabinet and your health.
Check the expiration dates on your over-the-counter drugs. If you have old prescriptions lying around that you don’t need, dispose of them responsibly. This is also a good time to make a list of all medications that you take. Having a complete list will make things easier the next time that you visit a doctor. And always make sure that these medications are out of the reach of children.
Speaking of little ones, do they need a physical for a sports team or summer camp? This is the perfect time to get it done.
But it doesn’t stop there. Adults need regular screenings and periodic check-ups, too. Okay, you’re healthy. That’s great. But we all need a little tune up every once in a while. Doctors recommend that you have a physical exam every five years while you’re in your 20’s and 30’s. Once you hit 40, it should be a little more often: about every two years. Once you turn 50 years “young,” get a physical and ask you doctor how often you should have periodic checkups or screenings. Your need will depend on any medical issues you have and your family health history.
Keep a record of your vaccinations. Vaccine recommendations change with age, if you have a chronic illness or if you are in a high risk group. Discuss your needs with your doctor and be prepared for a blood test during a physical exam. Blood tests often involve fasting (nothing to eat or drink except water) for 8 hours before blood is drawn. Patients should always take their regular medication on schedule even if they are fasting.
Pap test – Every one to three years starting at age 21
Colonoscopy – Every 10 years starting at age 50 unless problems are identified; then, more often. Ask your doctor for earlier screenings if you have a close relative with colon cancer.
Osteoporosis – Every two years starting at age 65 or postmenopausal women of any age
Mammogram – Ask your doctor
Prostate cancer screening – Ask your doctor
Infants & Toddlers – By age 6 months
2 to 5 years – At age 3 and prior to entering elementary school
6 to 19 years – Annually
20 to 64 years – Every two years
65 & older - Annually
These are general guidelines for a healthy individual. Consult your doctor to determine a screening schedule that is best for you.