“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This common adage may apply to household items or work processes, but ignoring your health can lead to unforeseen health issues, expensive hospital stays or even early death. Preventive care can help detect any signs of serious health concerns early when treatment is often more effective and more affordable.
An annual physical or wellness exam should be a priority on your checklist as it provides your doctor with an overall picture of your health and family history. He or she may want your blood drawn to check your cholesterol and thyroid levels and to check for Type 2 Diabetes. Additionally, your doctor will check your history to see if you need any immunizations.
If you are male and age 40 to 50 years, your doctor also will examine you for prostate cancer. He or she may also order a blood test to check your PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. These are all important measures in catching any serious diseases or illnesses early before they can become more aggravated and difficult to treat.
If you are an adult woman, you should have a women’s wellness exam every one to three years. Your doctor will gather tissue for a pap smear to test for cervical cancer and will examine your breasts and pelvic area. Once you turn 40, you should have a screening mammogram every year to check for breast cancer; some breast cancers are treatable if detected early. Depending on your age and family history, your doctor may recommend a bone density scan to screen for osteoporosis.
When you turn 50, your doctor will refer you for a colonoscopy, which screens for colorectal cancer, ulcers, and abnormal growths. Colonoscopies are typically recommended every five to 10 years.
And don’t forget your vision! Schedule an eye exam every one to two years. Your ophthalmologist will check your eyes for glaucoma, cataracts, eye cancer and retinopathy (a condition that can cause blindness in diabetics) as well as determine if you need corrective lenses.
If you are overdue for an annual exam, schedule one today at your family health clinic, like Valley Family Health Care in Ontario, OR, or women’s clinic (for well-women exams). Most insurances, including ACA health plans, cover annual wellness exams and may cover other screenings as well. Contact your insurance provider to find out which preventive screenings are covered by your plan.