Throughout our lives, we are especially susceptible to some diseases at certain ages. Because different health issues present at different times, it’s not practical to do screening tests all at once. The idea is to make a crucial diagnosis before the issue becomes a significant problem, so it’s essential to schedule health exams at the right time.
Infancy and Childhood Screenings
The American Academy of Pediatrics has agreed upon a schedule of well-child visits  from infancy through adolescence. These visits are set at ages associated with the milestones of normal development so the physician can observe any deviations from the norm. They are also timed so that the children will get their immunizations.
Health Exams in Your 20s
Once we become adults, we assume responsibility for our healthcare and well being. When you reach your twenties, you need to find a primary care doctor and set up regular visits to make sure you’re the healthiest you can be. Some women choose to see a dedicated gynecologist in addition to their primary care doctor, although most family physicians will also do the same exams.
Examinations that should be done in your twenties include:
STD and STI Checks. For sexually active young adults, routine STD checks are essential to catching HPV or infections early before they can damage reproductive organs or other bodily functions.
Pap Smear for Women. Pap smears are done routinely to check for cancer of the cervix.
Testicular Cancer Checks for Men. For men in their twenties, routine checks for masses in the testicles helps to catch testicular cancer as early as possible.
Evaluation of Your Skin. Suspicious moles or lesions should be removed or monitored carefully.
Annual Eye Exams. Your eyesight is vital to your well being. Start seeing an eye doctor on a routine basis in your twenties.
Bi-annual Dental Visits. Don’t forget to get your teeth cleaned every six months for a healthy mouth.
Many of these tests and evaluations will be repeated during routine visits throughout your lifetime, but they should be started as early as in your twenties. If your doctor does catch something concerning, the good news is that young people are resilient and have a good chance of treatment and recovery if diagnosed at this time.
Health Exams in Your 30s
As you become older, more examinations and tests may be needed. Your thirties are the perfect time to think about lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, losing weight, quitting smoking and limiting your alcohol consumption, to keep you strong and healthy.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, the following exams should be added to your checkups in your thirties:
Blood Pressure Monitoring. You need to keep an eye on your blood pressure, particularly if your family has a history of high blood pressure.
BMI (Body Mass Index). This is an indicator of body weight. Your doctor will discuss your BMI with you and offer advice on how to lose weight if needed.
Blood Glucose Test. Generally, your doctor will want to check your blood sugar levels to get ahead of diabetes, especially if you are overweight or have a family history.
Hearing Test. A basic hearing screening should be done around this time.
Thyroid Function Test. Sometimes, unexplained symptoms can be related to your thyroid. This may include sudden weight gain or loss, changes in sleep habits or mood swings.
Of course, your doctor will continue to conduct screenings for cervical or testicular cancers, STDs, skin cancer and other exams you started while in your twenties. Also, if you have any concerns or notice any changes to your health, don’t ignore them! Your doctor may order additional screenings depending on your symptoms.
Health Exams in Your 40s
Age 40 brings more tests as the risk for heart disease, lung disease and other health issues tends to go up around this age. Also, if you haven’t implemented better lifestyle habits while in your thirties, it’s time to take a serious look at how you can make improvements.
Here are key health screenings you should consider in your forties:
Cholesterol Levels. How you process cholesterol is largely determined by your genetic history. If you are overweight or have a family history of cholesterol problems, you are at higher risk for heart disease.
Prostate Exams for Men. Men should have prostate checks, consisting of a rectal exam and a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen), to screen for prostate cancer.
Mammograms for Women. Women should get a baseline mammogram at age 40, then again every other year.
Colonoscopy. For people with an average risk of colon cancer, age 45 is the time to start getting a colonoscopy every 5 to 10 years. Talk to your doctor about a virtual colonoscopy if a traditional colonoscopy is not a good option for you.
Bone Density Test. People at high risk for osteoporosis should have a bone density test around this age.
Heart CT Scan and Calcium Score. If you are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, now is the best time for a preventative heart CT scan with calcium score. This test can determine your risk of a heart attack and how aggressive you need to be about your healthy life changes.
Lung CT Scan. Smokers, those with respiratory issues or anybody experiencing lung disease symptoms should ask their doctor about a preventative lung CT scan.
Health Exams in Your 50s
By age 50, you’re about finished with adding more tests to routine wellness checks. However, you will continue to have regular screenings that started when you were younger. You should also schedule additional appointments and talk to your doctor if you have any health concerns. At this age, disease prevention is critical to living a full and happy life well past your sixties, seventies and beyond.
Things to discuss with your doctor in your fifties include:
Menopause for Women. There is no screening for menopause, but the symptoms should be clear if you are in this stage of life. If you’re having difficulty dealing with these symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe medications or hormone replacement therapies that will help.
Help to Quit Smoking. It’s never too late to quit smoking. If you’re a long-time smoker and are ready to kick the habit, talk to your doctor about resources or tips to help you quit for good.
Once you’ve established a pattern of preventative care and health awareness, you should continue it for the rest of your life. Preventative Diagnostic Center in Las Vegas makes essential CT screenings both accessible and affordable. Learn more about our low-dose CT scans and make an appointment today to take control of your health!
Dr. John J. Pierce is the Medical Director at Preventative Diagnostic Center. He is Board-certified in Emergency Medicine as well as Board-certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He received his medical training from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, in Pomona California. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Pierce serves as a Tactical Physician with the Las Vegas SWAT team.