Screenings through the ages

Want to maintain your good health? Better take these tests.

Whether you prefer to get your kicks shopping, watching football, going out for a night on the town, or just snuggling with your significant other, there are some things every lady loves to do. And if you’re like most women, undergoing regular health screenings probably isn’t on the list of most beloved activities. While health tests may never be your favorite things to do, it may be time to put them on your agenda.

Ready to take a step in the right direction? Protect your good health and peace of mind by getting these screenings through the ages.

20s & 30s
You may feel invincible at this point in your life, but a variety of unwanted health problems can arise. That’s why visiting your physician for an annual exam is so vital. While there, you may be recommended a variety of screenings, tests, and vaccines. Booster shots or vaccines are often recommended for chickenpox; tetanus, diphtheria, or whooping cough; tuberculosis; HPV; flu; hepatitis A and B; and measles, mumps, and rubella, as is testing for blood pressure and cholesterol. While you may suspect cholesterol screening to be a bit premature, getting this reading early on will give your physicians an early baseline of your cholesterol numbers. This way, they can easily notice if your cholesterol makes dangerous shifts as you age. A pap test is also typically started at age 21 and in healthy individuals is repeated every three years. If you are sexually active, you may need to begin testing for sexually transmitted infections at this time.

There’s nothing more important than our good health—that’s our principal capital asset. – Arlen Specter
Once you reach your 40s, the recommendations don’t slow down. You’ll still need all of the screenings and tests from your younger years, and a few others as well. At this age, cancer becomes an increasingly real threat. For women, this may mean starting mammograms. However, medical science is still figuring out when the first mammogram should take place and how often. At this point, it is thought that women with a family history of breast cancer or personal history of other cancers should have a first screening at the age of 45. If all is well, the next won’t occur for another five years. Your 40s are also the time when you will begin getting screened for diabetes, one of the most rampant diseases in the world today.

Mammograms start for all women at age 50 and should be undertaken every two years unless there’s something suspicious. Then you may need a more frequent mammogram. Along with continuing tests and immunizations from previous decades, the 50s increase your risk for lung and colorectal cancer. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to undergo screening for both. If you smoke or have smoked cigarettes in the last 15 years, lung cancer screening is suggested at age 55 and every year after. Otherwise healthy individuals should also begin colon cancer screenings around age 50 and have the test repeated every 5 to 10 years depending on findings and the type of test you opt to undergo.

60s & Beyond
Starting in your sixth decade, a few new threats to your good health creep in: osteoporosis, pneumonia, and shingles. After age 65, it is recommended that everyone receive the pneumonia vaccine, and you’ll want to get the shingles vaccine five years earlier. As for osteoporosis, it’s a good idea to get your first bone density screening at age 65. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, are thin, smoke cigarettes, or have suffered broken bones in the past, your risk for osteoporosis increases, so you may need to get screened earlier.





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