Yearly Checkups: What You Need to Know

Yearly Checkups: What You Need to Know

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by KELLIE PATTERSON / NBC Charlotte

WCNC.com

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM

It’s almost time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions and a lot of people like to make healthy goals. While eating healthy and exercising are great ones, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting those yearly check-ups so doctors can take a look at things you might not necessarily see yourself.
 
Dr. Monique May from Cotswold Medical Clinic stopped by our studio to talk about why it’s so important to get a checkup.
 
“I like to use the example of car maintenance because unfortunately a lot of people take better care of their cars than they do themselves. So, of course, when a car
is brand new there’s not much upkeep you need to do but after so many miles you need to get the oil changed, tires rotated, transmission flushed, an all that stuff to prevent more costly repairs down the road.”
 
She says going to your checkups allows doctors to catch things early before they become a serious problem or even life threatening.
 
So how often should you go?
 
“Once a year is usually sufficient if you are otherwise generally healthy. Of course, if you have other chronic conditions that wouldn’t apply. For the average generally healthy person once a year to touch base with your physician is a good idea.”
 
Dr. May also has some advice on specific screenings you should get at a certain age.
 
This is what she said about getting a physical in your 20's:
 
“For women, pap smears are important to check for abnormal cells that can become cervical cancer. There are blood tests such as cholesterol screenings, diabetes screenings, anemia which is a low blood count, a urine specimen to check for kidney problems, and STD screenings."
 
She also says a check on your blood pressure, weight, and skin is important too.
 
In addition to the things just mentioned, here's what to look for in your 30's:
 
"Mammograms may start to be recommended. There's a little controversy over when we should tell women to get a baseline mammogram."
 
When you hit your 40's, there are some other important screenings that need to be added into the mix.
 
"For men, particularly African American men, we recommend starting to check the prostate with a blood test called a PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen). Men can also have a rectal or digital exam to try to feel the size and shape of the prostate.”
              
She also says women should start annual mammograms at age 40.
 
This is what she says about your 50’s:
 
"We do start colon cancer screenings at 50 because colon cancer starts as little polyps or little fleshy growths that are in the lining of the intestinal wall. You may walk around for years and not know you have them."
 
In your 60's some things change and some screenings should continue.
 
"Pap smears can stop at 65 or so. Mammograms we recommend probably up until 70 - 75 or so. Colonoscopy you would probably continue screening into the 70's as well."
 
Dr. May says the older a person gets; they stop screening for certain things based on their health.
 
She also had this to say about ALL of this advice.
 
"All of these recommendations are for a member of the general population. If you have a strong family history or if you are having symptoms of a particular disease this does not apply to you."
 
Hopefully these general guidelines from Dr. May will help you make your health a priority.
 

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