Doctor! Doctor!

You probably know how often you can go between pedicures, hair
cuts, and hair color, but it’s harder to remember when you’re due for
certain health screenings. Yet I can’t think of a healthier habit than
getting regular check ups so that you can become aware of any
problems or concerns in the early stages when they are easily treated.
I thought I’d share the current guidelines.

Note thought that guidelines should never be set in stone and that you and your doctor can make the best decision about scheduling certain tests more or less frequently than recommended. What tests, procedures and check ups that would benefit you will be based on the guidelines, but also on your personal medical history, family history, and lifestyle and behavior choices (For example because I have already had 2 instances of skin cancer I need a full body skin check every 6 months). If you have a worrisome symptom, do NOT delay having it checked. Early detection is a key to overall health. 

So am I really going to make you go to the doctor as part of our Fall Healthy Living Challenge? Yes. Our challenge for this week it is to SCHEDULE a needed medical or dental exam. I realize that with co-pays or lack of insurance these exams can be expensive and some doctors are booking several weeks out so I’m not requiring you to GET an exam or procedure this week. But to earn the 35 bonus points for this next week you need to make a list of what appointments and procedures you are due for and actually schedule at least one of them. It is amazing to me how it can seem like just a few months since I've seen a doctor but when I pull out the info to check it has been 4 YEARS (yes this actually happened to me.) So yes I am OK with you scheduling an appointment for 6 months from now but call the Doctor now and get on the books. And if you are current on all of your medical and dental check ups pat yourself on the back and claim your 35 points- good job without having to do anything special this week. No I am not going to require you to have EVERY check up that you may be due for, but please be prayerful about what is most important for you to take care of rather than just scheduling the easiest appointment. 

So now are you wondering what recommended screenings you might be due for? Here are the guidelines.


In your 20s and older:

1. Primary care physician, trained in either family or internal medicine: Once a year (at minimum every other year). Checkup should include reading and fecal occult blood test to screen for problems including gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. You should also get a fasting blood sugar test every two years or so to screen for diabetes.

2. Gynecologist: Once a year. Includes Pap smear, pelvic exam, clinical breast exam.

3. Dentist: Every six months for teeth cleaning and oral exam.

4. Dermatologist: If you're fair-skinned or have a family history of skin cancer, you'll want an annual appointment. Otherwise, go if you have any suspicious moles or skin problems.

5. Vaccinations: Make an appointment if: (a) it's time for your tetanus booster (required every ten years); (b) you're not immune to chickenpox (you need the shot if you've never had the disease or the vaccine); you're not immune to measles, mumps, or rubella (if you were born after 1956, you may need to be inoculated for all three, usually in one shot).

In your 30s, add:

6. Cholesterol screening: You need one every five years if your last test was normal. Some experts say you can wait until your 40s to start unless you're at increased risk for heart disease because of smoking, family history, obesity, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

In your 40s, add:

7. Mammogram: The rigorous and evidence-based U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended 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.

8. Stress echocardiogram: Get a baseline analysis of how your heart is holding up.

9. Ophthalmologist: Many doctors advise going annually, although others recommend every two to four years until age 65, then annually. The visit should include an intraocular pressure measurement for glaucoma.

In your 50s and above, add:

10. Colonoscopy: Every five years unless family history or past results dictate more often. 

11. Bone density scan: Start routine testing at menopause—earlier if you're small-framed, your weight is very low, you have a mother with osteoporosis, or you've had fractures (other than in a freak accident) after age 45. Some experts recommend waiting until you are 65, unless there are risk factors.

Note if you have big pile of birthday or inheritance cash burning a whole in your pocket I also recommend a new DNA test called 23 and me (order at It's expensive ($200) but provides you with a wealth of information on everything from what diseases your may be most prone to experience to what nutrients your body does a poor job of up-taking. You can take the data 23 and me sends you and plug it into and also on to get stacks and stacks of info about how to best handle your stewardship over your body and your unique genome. 

So that's it for this week ladies. Make a detailed list of what check ups you are due for and schedule at least one. Let's be healthy together for many decades to come. 

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