Be well (part 2): Staying healthy through the decades
Another guest post by AAMC physician, Dr. Czapp. Here, she answers your question, “What screenings and health assessments are important for me right now?” Check your decade.
The 20s: What, me worry? Gals should get well woman exams. Everybody should have cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Don’t forget that family history: there may be other tests to do, too. Good nutrition and exercise habits NOW will save you from much grief later. Get a skin exam from your regular doctor or a dermatologist. Follow your doc’s advice on intervals for screening tests for you. Intervals for paps and skin exams, for example, have gotten more individualized.
The 30s: Gals should get well woman exams. Everybody should have cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Follow your doc’s advice on screening test intervals for you. Update your family history. Compare what you weigh now with what you weighed at age 20. If it is more than ten pounds heavier, you MUST act now before you reach…
The 40s: OMG. What just happened?! Food tastes better. On top of that, even though you are making a concerted effort to eat LESS, the weight keeps piling on. For women in particular, muscle mass is being replaced by…fat. You are losing one of the major calorie burners (muscle) of your body and you will have to work at getting it back. You must both exercise and eat less just to keep your weight STEADY.
In the forties, almost everybody needs an annual wellness visit with the doc. It’s a good decade to start visiting the ophthalmologist as well – just every couple of years unless you have a condition that warrants visits more often. Screening tests (cholesterol, diabetes, skin checks, etc.) are happening to you at shorter intervals now. Family history is still important. Gals, mammograms at least every other year. Some guys start getting PSAs in this decade, but it is an individual consideration.
The 50s: You should have a colonoscopy at age 50. Happy Birthday. You may have had a colonoscopy earlier for other reasons. If you really don’t want a colonoscopy, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of all the options. Gals, mammograms every year, please. In fact, just about everybody needs an annual wellness visit with the doc at this age. Intervals for screening tests remain individualized, including PSA for the guys.
The 60’s: If you had your colonoscopy at 50, had no polyps or other reasons to have another one sooner, then you are due for colonoscopy again at age 60. Mammos every year, gals. Pneumococcal vaccine at age 65, unless you already had two doses earlier in life for other reasons. Other than that , screening test choices and intervals remain individualized.
The 70’s: Colonoscopy due ten years after the last one. Mammos every year, gals. Screening test choices and intervals remain individualized.
Have questions? Ask them here.
-Patricia Czapp, M.D.