Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Question: For women what preventative medical screening tests should they have and at what age?

I'm often asked and even more often forget what medical screening tests are important for early disease detection. I keep this list posted on my refrigerator as a handy reminder to be responsible for my own well being and schedule my own screening exams.

More and more these days children are developing the beginnings of chronic disease so pediatricians have taken on trying to treat adult diseases in our children. As mothers, we need to do our part by taking more interest in our children's lifestyle choices than we do our own. After all, 90 years(dx. age 10) is a long time to have diabetes type 2, wouldn't you say? Especially if diabetes type 2 is preventable.

Answer: Not all organizations agree on the specific time, age for preventative testing however they pretty much have reached a consensus.

Here are general guidelines:

• Thyroid test - every five years beginning at age 35

• Blood pressure test - Every two years beginning at age 18

• Cholesterol test - Start at age 20 and let your doctor suggest frequency. Although many pediatricians are testing children for high cholesterol beginning at 12 years old.

• Bone mineral density test - Have baseline test around age 40 and let your doctor decide on frequency.

• Blood sugar test (diabetes) - Every three years beginning at age 45. Since the rise in Type 2 Diabetes in children, many pediatricians are checking blood sugar as young as 3 years old.

• Mammogram - Beginning at age 40, every one to two years

• Pap test/Pelvic exam - Every one to three years if you are sexually active, up to age 65. After age 65 let your doctor decide on frequency.

• Colorectal health testing - Yearly fecal occult blood test beginning at age 50. Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years if not having a colonoscopy.

• Colonoscopy - Every 10 years beginning at age 50. Unless you have a strong family history then earlier and more frequent testing might be indicated.

Talk to your doctor about a screening plan that is best for you.
Remember to take care of yourself, if you don’t know one else will.

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN, Health Coach

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