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Forget keeping up with the Joneses, or the Kardashians, (really though - they just taped the last episode of their last season *waah*); keeping up with wellness exams and screenings can feel like a losing battle. Some healthcare providers and health systems are great at informing you when you are due for certain exams and screenings, and sending reminders; but trying to cobble together a comprehensive list year-after-year is no easy feat. The purpose of this blog is to provide a handy checklist (Get it?! CHECK list) of all recommended exams and screenings, from A to E... because A to Z would be ridiculously long and overwhelming.
Annual wellness exam (aka, physical)
>The name pretty much sums it up, but let me break this down a bit further. Annual wellness exams are to be conducted annually. Shocking, indeed: not because they are to be conducted with the same frequency as the name insists, but because they are NOT for nearly half of all women ages 18-64. In fact, nearly 50% of millennials don't even have a primary care provider. (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018)
> Wellness exams should include the following:
1) *physical exam: this entails getting your height and weight to calculate #BMI, taking your #bloodpressure, a clinical #breast exam, checking your #heart, #lungs, #neurology, and reviewing your #healthbehaviors and #mentalhealth
2) screenings for certain conditions (based on genetic predisposition, labs, and/or concerns you may have)
3) ensuring you are up-to-date with vaccinations (and administering any as recommended)
*Talk to your healthcare provider about whether it is appropriate for you to be seen in-person, or adequate to conduct your exam remotely (i.e. #telehealth consult). If there is a surge in COVID cases during your scheduled appointment, your provider may advise that you conduct your appointment remotely, but come in the office at a later date for a physical examination.
Women ages 20-39 should have a clinical breast exam annually. (Like, at your annual wellness exam.) Starting at the age of 40, women should have a #mammogram annually. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your provider may have you initiate mammograms earlier.
(and sexual health, but I'm really trying to stick with letters a through e)
The #Pap test (i.e. Pap smear) tests for cervical cancer. Women ages 20-29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women ages 30-65 should have a Pap test and #HPV test every 5 years, or a Pap test only every 3 years.
Despite not needing certain tests and screenings annually, it is recommended that you see your #OBGYN annually for a physical pelvic exam, and to discuss any health concerns with your reproductive system, such as abnormal bleeding, infertility, and/or pelvic pain.
A real pain in the ass (pun 1), but it is so important to have a #colonoscopy every ten years, starting at age 50. Your gut health is vital to your wellbeing. You want to trust your gut (pun 2), but it also needs to trust you.
Yeah, yeah - we all know this one: cleanings and exams every 6 months. If your dentist is anything like mine, you get PLENTY of reminders. ;) But, did you know that your dental health is also tied to many chronic conditions - like diabetes and heart disease? Poorly controlled diabetes and high blood sugars can cause tooth decay and gum disease. And poor dental health increases the risk of bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect heart valves. So, go every 6 months (especially if it's covered by your insurance). Or at least once a year.
>optometrist: provide routine exams; prescribe and fit for corrective lenses; can diagnosis some eye conditions
>ophthalmologist: diagnose and manage internal and external eye conditions; perform eye surgery
Individuals ages 20-39 should have an eye exam every 2-3 years; annually if you wear contact lenses or glasses. At age 40, it is recommended to see your optometrist every 1-2 years (again, annually if you wear contact lenses or glasses). At age 65, you should see your optometrist annually.
And there you have it: a comprehensive A to E list. (That's meant to be an oxymoron.) Before you go about scheduling these appointments, check with your health insurance to ensure that these exams and screenings are covered, and fall within your benefit year. And if you are experiencing any mental or physical illness, do NOT wait until a routine appointment to speak with your healthcare provider. Call your provider's office and ask that a care manager or nurse help you navigate through the best course of action.
In good health,