A New Year’s Health Checklist

Every year:

Get a checkup, even if you consider yourself a healthy young adult. Important screening tests for diabetes, thyroid disease, lipid disorders, hepatitis, vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency, and anemia may be included in your standard blood work. Your doctor will select tests depending on factors like your age, whether or not you smoke, your weight or body mass index (BMI), and family history.

If you don’t have a regular doctor, consider finding one who specializes in well health/preventive medicine. Routine visits help you establish a relationship with your doctor and can prevent illness. You’ll be screened for medical problems, become more aware of your disease risk, and learn about healthy lifestyle choices. A checkup is also a great time to get questions answered and discuss concerns.

Update your immunizations. Many healthy adults don’t realize the importance of preventing serious illnesses through vaccination. For example, even if you had a tetanus shot as a child, the vaccine must be updated every 10 years. Many adults also are not immunized against chicken pox, whooping cough, hepatitis, pneumococcus and meningococcus (the last two are causes of infections like meningitis and pneumonia).

Check out these recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to see what you might be missing.  Then, follow up with your me to make sure you’re getting the right vaccines for you.

Women, visit your gynecologist for your annual exam. All women should begin PAP screening at age 21 (not before), regardless of sexual activity.  Sexually transmitted disease testing, including for HIV, is recommended for sexually active women of all ages. Sometimes you can have a pelvic exam and a regular preventive checkup with the same provider; if you’re looking for a new doctor, ask whether they do this, as it can save you time and maybe money, too.

Also, women, make an appointment for a mammogram if you’re a woman age 50 or older – or earlier if breast cancer screening has been recommended due to your family or health history.  Read more about breast cancer screening and prevention, for men as well as women.

Book an appointment for a colonoscopy in my office if you’re a man or woman age 50 or older, or earlier if colorectal cancer screening has been recommended due to your family or health history. Once you have a normal colonoscopy, future screenings may only be necessary every 5 to 10 years. Alternatives to colonoscopy include barium enema, virtual colonoscopy, and Cologuard® stool DNA test. Discuss options with your doctor.

If you’ve already completed these checkups, congratulate yourself on a healthy year, but keep on top of them for the next 12 months to come. If you’ve let these important visits slide, why not make yourself a priority and start this year with a clean bill of health?

- See more at: http://staywellblog.walgreens.com/health-wellness/new-years-health-checklist#sthash.GMK2CGhB.dpuf