No matter what your age is, it’s always necessary to make sure you are in good health. But it does take some effort to keep yourself healthy, and part of that effort is getting appropriate screening tests that are used to detect potential health problems while they’re still treatable. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 26% of people in the US don’t have a regular source of healthcare.
1. Cholesterol check
Cholesterol is measured by a blood test and your doctor may ask you not to eat for 9 to 12 hours beforehand. Generally, a cholesterol test will measure your levels of total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. A healthy total cholesterol goal should be below 200 mg/dL. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), all adults over the age of 35 should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. Screening should begin at the age of 20 if you have certain risk factors such as:
- BMI over 30
- a family history of stroke
- first degree relatives who’ve had heart attacks
2. Skin checks
According to the results of a study carried out by the American Cancer Society, about 3.3 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Just to be safe, check yourself once a month starting at age 18. Screenings by a medical professional are based on a patient’s risk factors.
These risk factors may include:
- significant sun exposure
- a family history of skin cancer
- fair skin
- the presence of multiple unusual moles
- a history of several blistering sunburns, especially early in life.
A board-certified dermatologist examines the skin over your entire body (including your scalp, genitals, and between your toes), and looks for suspicious growths, moles, or lesions.
3. Pelvic exam and Pap smear
Every woman 21 years old or older should have a pelvic examination or Pap smear every 3 years. This test is conducted to check for signs of cervical cancer. The good news is that you probably don’t need the physical pelvic exam anymore.
According to the American Cancer Society, over the past 50 years, the death rate from this disease has declined by more than 74% thanks to the Pap smear.
Both tests look for changes in cells that could indicate a need for further testing, like a biopsy, says Tasneem Bhatia, a board-certified physician who specializes in integrative medicine. She says, “If it is cervical cancer, you want to catch it early.”
All adults should get checked for diabetes at least 2 times a year since it does not show any symptoms at an early age. But you should definitely get tested if you experience any of the early symptoms that do sometimes occur, including:
- extreme thirst
- feeling tired all the time
- feeling very hungry, even after eating
- blurry vision
- urinating more often than usual
- have sores or cuts that won’t heal
Blood pressure higher than 135/80 mm Hg may be a symptom of diabetes. Testing for diabetes may include a hemoglobin A1C blood test, a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test, or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis.
In many people, liver disease can be a silent one. If you don’t have symptoms, hep C could be wearing down your immune system and might lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer if left untreated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.4 million Americans are currently living with chronic hepatitis B or C. Many more people don’t even know that they have hepatitis.
There are 5 types of hepatitis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E.
You can get tested at least once a year.
6. Blood cancer
It is necessary to get a general analysis of your blood. It is important for an early detection of leukemia, or commonly known as blood cancer. There are 137 different types of blood cancer but the 3 main types are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Blood cancer can often be diagnosed through a simple blood test which helps detect the following:
- To help diagnose some blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma;
- Find out if cancer has spread to the bone marrow;
- Determine how a person’s body is handling cancer treatment;
- To diagnose other noncancerous conditions.
It is never too late to get your bone density checked. This crippling weakening of the bones afflicts nearly 10 million older Americans, 80% of whom are women, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
You just have to give your urine sample that measures the rate at which you’re losing bone mass followed by an x-ray (DXA test) annually.
If your x-ray shows you have osteopenia, a pre-osteoporotic state of low bone density, your doctor will recommend that you consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium and 400 to 800 IUs of vitamin D daily.
This test is highly recommended for all adults.
A urinalysis is a regular urine screening recommended by doctors to catch the early signs of diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, urinary tract infection, and more.
Abnormal urinalysis requires additional screening methods that include:
- blood tests
- imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs
- comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)
- urine culture
- complete blood count (CBC)
- liver or renal panel
A complete urinalysis consists of 3 distinct testing phases:
- Visual examination, which evaluates the urine’s color and transparency;
- Chemical examination, which tests chemically for 9 substances that provide valuable information about health and disease and determines the concentration of the urine;
- Microscopic examination, which identifies and counts the type of cells, casts, crystals, and other components such as bacteria and mucus that can be present in urine.