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Don't Forget These Important Tests PDF Print
Written by Editors, Red Hot Mamas   
Monday, 09 October 2006 07:40
Article Index
0.1. Pelvic Exam
0.2. Pap Smear or Pap Test
0.3. Bone Density Test
0.4. Blood Pressure Test
0.5. Cholesterol Levels or Lipid Profiles
0.6. Blood Sugar (Blood Glucose) Tests
0.7. Mammograms
0.8. Colorectal Screening
0.9. Thyroid
0.10. Eye Exam
0.11. Dental Exam
0.12. Skin Exam

Making the most of your visits to the doctor…

Are you one of those people who neglect “raising your hood” and continue driving your car as long as it runs well? Many of us practice this type of “reactionary maintenance”. We rush to a repair facility the first time we notice a change in the drive-ability of our cars. We complain when the problem takes more than a couple of hours and a few dollars to fix.

If you have a good mechanic, he/she will probably tell you to start practicing “preventative maintenance”. They’ll most likely give you a lecture about how your car needs to receive a service every 3,000 miles (or every few months). Constant, easy maintenance ensures everything is running properly and will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. The same goes for your body. If you deny your body proper preventative maintenance and avoid regular visits to the doctor, your body will start to deteriorate.

If you are generally in “good health”, all it takes is a checkup once a year. It will probably only take twenty minutes of face time with your healthcare provider in the examination room. Make the most out of your next doctor’s visit by preparing in advance and knowing what to expect. Proactively compile a list of questions to ask and a checklist of tests you’d like to receive.

How often should you have a physical exam? This depends on your age and your general health. For healthy women in their thirties, we recommend an exam every three to five years. For women in their forties, one exam every two to three years is sufficient. After the age of fifty, an annual exam is necessary.

Certain tests during a physical examination may not be necessary but depend on your family’s medical history and your personal lifestyle choices. For example, if you’re a smoker, you probably need a chest X-ray every year. If someone in your family has diabetes, it’s a good idea to take a fasting glucose test. Therefore, you should establish a relationship with your healthcare provider so he/she can recommend the appropriate tests for your physical examination.

We recommend the following tests be repeated yearly for women over the age of fifty. The following tests are what we consider the most important for assessing your health at menopause and beyond.

0.1. Pelvic Exam

This examination is necessary so your healthcare provider can determine the size and position of the pelvic organs (fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, cervix and vagina), bladder and rectum. The exam can detect any abnormalities that may lead to invasive cancer of the reproductive system, endometriosis and/or fibroids.

0.2. Pap Smear or Pap Test

A sample of cells is taken from the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus) to detect any abnormal cell changes that may arise from cervical cancer or before cancer develops. The sample is sent to a lab for analysis. You usually find out about the results in a week’s time. Learn more about Pap Tests.

0.3. Bone Density Test

This is an important test that uses a special X-ray to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. BMD tests can determine if you have or are at risk of osteoporosis.

0.4. Blood Pressure Test

Blood pressure tests are so simple and so useful. They measures the force of blood being pumped through the arteries by the heart and the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow. Blood pressure readings are important as they can detect many of the abnormalities that can lead to cardiovascular problems.

0.5. Cholesterol Levels or Lipid Profiles

Levels of cholesterol in your blood can easily be measured. The different components of cholesterol are all measured including total, HDL, LDL and triglycerides. These levels can determine your risk of cardiovascular disease.

0.6. Blood Sugar (Blood Glucose) Tests

Several blood tests are available that can determine sugar levels in your body. Some tests require fasting (not eating for a certain amount of time) but others are random (regardless of when you ate last). They are important to check for diabetes and/or monitor and treat diabetes.

0.7. Mammograms

Simply put, a mammogram is a breast X-ray. With the great prevalence of breast cancer, you should screen and diagnose for it regularly. Early detection is the key to reducing your risk. A mammogram can detect tumors or other changes in breast tissue. Results are usually mailed within 30 days. Learn more about mammograms.

0.8. Colorectal Screening

Having a colorectal screening is the number one way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer if you are over the age of fifty. Cancers and polyps can be detected and the screening is minimally invasive. A digital exam and/or a fecal occult test are usually the first screenings given. If something is suspicious, your healthcare provider will probably recommend other tests (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema).

0.9. Thyroid

Thyroid problems are common during the menopausal years. Some women may not experience any symptoms. A thyroid test is a blood test called the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test. This test is used to make sure everything is functioning properly with your thyroid.

0.10. Eye Exam

Routine eye exams can be given by your regular physician or an ophthalmologist. If anything is suspected, you can then go to see an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in medical and surgical eye care). After age 40, people are more likely to be affected by eye diseases such as glaucoma. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends an examination by an ophthalmologist every two to four years for people aged 40 to 65 years. For people 65 and older, an exam by an ophthalmologist is recommended every one to two years. See our section on Eye Concerns for more information.

0.11. Dental Exam

Go to the dentist every 6 months to 1 year throughout your entire life. Aging takes a toll on those pearly whites. Periodontal (or gum) disease is the reason 30 percent of people over 65 lose all of their teeth. Take care of the teeth you have today so you don’t have to start soaking them in the future.

0.12. Skin Exam

Oh, and our skin changes too! Hormones and sun exposure can greatly affect our skin as we age. Know how to check your own skin for new growths or other changes. Some changes may be harmless but others can be signs of disease. Also have your healthcare provider do a skin exam during regular checkups.

Use the Interactive Screening Chart and Immunization Tool to see which tests you need before your next doctor's visit.

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 15:08
 

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