All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to:
- Screen for diseases
- Assess risk of future medical problems
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle
- Update vaccinations
- Maintain a relationship with a doctor in case of an illness
Even if you feel fine, it is still important to see your health care provider regularly to check for potential problems. Most people who have high blood pressure don't even know it. The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Likewise, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels often do not produce any symptoms until the disease becomes advanced.
There are specific times when you should see your health care provider. Age-specific guidelines are as follows:
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening:
- Men between ages 65 - 75 who have smoked should have an ultrasound done once to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.
- Others should discuss such screening with their health care provider.
- Blood pressure screening:
- Have your blood pressure checked every year.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be watched more closely.
- Cholesterol screening:
- If your cholesterol level is normal, have it rechecked every 3-5 years.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely.
- Colon cancer screening: One of the following screening tests should be done:
- A stool test every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a stool guaiac test
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Computed tomographic colonography (virtual colonoscopy)
Note: Patients with risk factors for colon cancer, including long-standing ulcerative colitis, personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or history of large colorectal adenomas may need a colonoscopy more often.
- Dental exam:
- Go to the dentist every year.
- Eye exam:
- Have an eye exam every 2 years.
- Make sure your health care provider checks for glaucoma.
- Hearing test:
- Have your hearing tested every year.
- If you are over 65, get a pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had before, or if you received one more than 5 years before your turned 65.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Get a tetanus -diphtheria booster every 10 years.
- A shingles or herpes zoster vaccination may be given once after age 60.
- Men: Prostate exam:
- All men should discuss prostate cancer screening with their health care provider.
- Screening may involves a PSA test or digital rectal exam.
- Physical exam:
- Have a yearly physical exam.
- With each exam, you should have your height and weight checked.
- Routine diagnostic tests are not recommended unless your doctor finds a problem.
- Men: Osteoporosis screening:
- All men over age 70 should have a bone density test (DEXA scan).
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