Doctor Appointments for Every Decade

If you’ve been on top of your apple a day in hopes of keeping the doctor away, I’ve got some unfortunate news for you: like it or not your butt is bound to get back on that table!

Visits to the doc are an essential part of good health, so embrace it, mark your calendar and remember these important appointments that come each decade:

IN YOUR 20s

Primary care physician.  Every year you should make a visit to your primary care physician. Think of this yearly appointment as a time and money saver; the earlier health issues are detected, the better (for both your health and wallet).  The checkup should include a screening for problems such as gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer and diabetes.

Gynecologist. Once a year. Includes pelvic exam, pap smear, breast exam and if you have a new sexual partner, STD screenings.

DentistEvery six months for a teeth cleaning plus an oral exam. Regular check ups can prevent cavities, root canals, gum diseaseoral cancer, and other costly dental conditions.

Eye exams. You should get an eye check every 1-2 years, as optometrists will look for signs of more serious health issues like glaucoma.

Dermatologist. If you have skin cancer in your family you should get an annual check up. If not, make an appointment if you have any suspicious moles or skin problems.  Remember the letters ABCDE when looking at skin growths:

    • Asymmetry (not round)
    • Border (irregular)
    • Color (uneven, changing, different from other moles)
    • Diameter (larger than a pencil eraser)
    • Evolving (changing in size, shape, or colour)

VaccinationsGet shots to protect you from measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) if you’ve never had the vaccination before.  The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended for anyone whose last Tdap shots were more than 10 years ago. Each year, get the influenza vaccine. The flu shot is especially important if you have medical conditions that put you at risk of complications from the flu.  If you never had chickenpox as a kid, you should get vaccinated.

IN YOUR 30s

Cholesterol screening. You need one every five years if your last test was normal. (These tests are usually available at health fairs or through the internet).

IN YOUR 40s

Mammogram. Experts recommend starting annual screenings at 40; other guidelines suggest beginning at 50. Use your intuition and common sense based on your health and family history, and discuss your decision with your doctor.

Stress echocardiogram. Get an overview of how healthy your heart is.

Ophthalmologist.  The visit should include an intraocular pressure measurement for glaucoma.

IN YOUR 50s

Colonoscopy. Every five years.

Bone density scan. For women, start routine testing at menopause after age 45.

*Source: Doctor Appointment Scheduling Guide, http://www.oprah.com/health/Doctors-Appointment-Scheduling-Guide-LLuminari

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