As we approach the end of the year, talks of New Year’s resolutions will begin to surface. For many people, it’s a great time to evaluate their habits and commit to making health a priority. One way to get a head start on this resolution is to check in on your preventive care needs.
To determine what services are recommended for you based upon your age, medical history, and overall health condition, the first step should always be communicating with your primary care provider. Here are seven potential preventive exams to consider and discuss with your provider as you pull your end-of-year healthcare checklist together:
1. Behind on your vaccines? Get your shots.
Vaccines are often one of the top healthcare items we put off, but critically important to a healthy life. It’s important to know which vaccines you need and how often they are required. For example, you should receive the Tdap vaccines, which prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, every 10 years. Flu vaccines are recommended yearly. Talk to your doctor to find out which immunizations you are due for.
2. Women, due for your mammogram? Schedule a screening.
Don’t wait to schedule a mammogram screening! Recommendations on when to begin screening for breast cancer differ depending on your health risk and family history, so it is best to talk to your provider to determine the recommended frequency. Early detection of breast cancer saves lives, and screenings catch small tumors that otherwise cannot be felt. The main goal is to catch potential issues early, when they are more treatable.
3. Men, have you had your prostate screening?
One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, the second most common cancer found in men in the United States. Your family history and ethnicity can affect how early you should have a prostate cancer screening, but most men should begin screening around the age of 50. Because prostate cancer is slow-moving, it can be hard to detect without a screening, so make sure to check in with your provider if you think you could be at risk.
4. Time for a colonoscopy? Visit your gastroenterologist.
Like mammograms, recommendations on when to begin screening for colon cancer differ, so it is best to talk to your provider about when to start. While many people choose to put off colonoscopies for fear of the procedure, these tests can be life-saving. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States. Don’t delay if you are due for a colonoscopy.
5. Could you be at risk for bone loss or fractures? Consider a bone mineral density scan.
Often overlooked but critical to healthy living, your bone density is important. It can be measured with a bone mineral density test, also known as a DEXA scan. This scan is most appropriate for women ages 65 and older, or younger women with a higher-than-normal chance of fracture for their age.
Not at risk? It is still a good idea to incorporate exercise, calcium, and vitamin D into your lifestyle, to help keep your bones strong and lower your chances of osteoporosis. Getting ahead of the game to prevent bone loss is a vital part of health and wellness.
6. Difficulty hearing? Visit your audiologist.
Most people do not even realize they have hearing loss because of the gradual decline. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, pain in your ears, or variation of hearing from one ear to the other, get an appointment with an audiologist to get nagging hearing issues addressed.
7. Skin concerns? It’s time for a skin cancer screening.
Anyone can get skin cancer, but those with lighter skin, blue or green eyes, and a family history of skin cancer are at greater risk. If you notice a change in your skin, like a new growth or a change in a mole, schedule a visit with your provider. Making a once-a-year skin check can save lives by catching conditions, such as melanoma, early.
Reminder: Always first seek guidance from your primary care provider to discuss your risk factors and determine the best care approach for your needs. Primary care services are expansive and, in addition to the above, could include exams for men’s and women’s health, vision, and hypertension and cardiovascular issues, among others.
As you start making plans to ring in the new year, start with prevention to help create healthy habits!
Premise Health operates health and wellness centers for large employers, bringing care directly to their populations through onsite, nearsite and virtual health. We’re helping members and their families stay healthier through a comprehensive suite of services including primary care, pharmacy, occupational health, fitness, wellness, and more. It’s all part of our mission to help people get, stay, and be well.
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