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  • Writer's pictureJD Grantham

When (and Why) to Get a Health Screening

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

With only so many hours in the day, prioritizing our health can often fall by the wayside. Next thing you know, you are over 40 and overdue for regular checkups - leading to a lecture from your medical provider. And they may not be fun to listen to, but they are important reminders to put our health first.

Don't feel bad if you have been slacking on the doctor visits; you are in good company (okay, bad company, but you get the drift). In 2022 about 38% of Americans reported avoiding or postponing needed treatments, the highest in Gallup's 22-year trend.

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Follow along as we break down why you should be actively participating in preventative care measures, such as when (and why) to get a health screening.

What Is a Health Screening?

To kick off this knowledge drop, let's discuss what health screening means.

A health screening is a medical procedure to assess a person's overall health and identify potential health risks or problems. The purpose is to detect health conditions early, when they may be easier to treat, and to prevent future health problems.

These screenings can take many forms and may include various tests and exams, depending on the individual's age, gender, medical history, and risk factors. Some common types of health screenings include:

  • Cholesterol Tests: High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease and other health problems.

  • Diabetes Tests: Diabetes is a common condition that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

  • Cancer Screenings: Cancer screenings, such as mammograms, Pap tests, and colonoscopies, can detect early signs of cancer and improve the chances of successful treatment.

  • Vision and Hearing Tests: Vision and hearing tests can detect early signs of problems and help prevent future complications.

  • Blood Pressure Checks: High blood pressure is a common condition that can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Check out the video below, where the chief health and medical editor and chief medical correspondent for ABC News and Good Morning America, Dr. Jen Ashton, explains it a bit more.

When Do I Need a Health Screening?

Now that you are more familiar with a health screening, it is time to tackle the "when." Before you start blowing up your doctor's office with requests for all the tests, think about what you actually need. If you are in your 30s and have an active and healthy lifestyle, you may not need to be checked for diabetes - unless you have a family history of high cholesterol or blood pressure.

Timing is everything, and factors including age, gender, family history, personal health history, and lifestyle play a strong hand on when you need that health screening.

Here are some general guidelines to help you keep track of recommended routine screenings.

Health Screens for 18-39

  • Blood pressure screening: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.

  • Cholesterol screening: Starting at age 20, check your cholesterol levels every four to six years if you have no risk factors for heart disease.

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI) screening: If you are sexually active, have multiple partners, or experiencing symptoms such as discharge or pain, you may need to be screened for STIs.

  • Skin cancer screening: Starting at age 18, you should check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots and have a dermatologist evaluate any suspicious areas.

  • Dental checkup: Have a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year.

  • Eye exam: Have an eye exam every two to three years, or more often, if you wear contact lenses or have a family history of eye problems.

Health Screens for Your 40s

The above screenings should continue from 40-64, though the frequency of these examinations may change according to individual health needs. In addition to these, individuals aged 40-64 should complete the following screenings:

  • Mammograms (annually from 40 onward)

  • Prostate exams (annually from 40 for high-risk individuals, 50 for those not at risk)

  • Blood sugar levels

Additionally, individuals should complete a colonoscopy every ten years, starting at 45. However, those with family histories of colon cancer should begin screenings ten years before the age of their youngest inflicted family member.

Health Screens for People 65 and Older:

After the age of 65, regular health screenings become increasingly important. All of the above screenings should be completed; however, many individuals in this age group risk losing bone density — and those 65+ should receive bone density screenings every 2-5 years.

Below, we list other recommended screenings for individuals in this age group:

  • Weight and height become increasingly essential to measure, as individuals 65+ are at an increased risk of osteoporosis

  • Regular pneumonia vaccines are recommended (every five years)

Health screening with MRI machine

Benefits of Regular Health Screenings

No matter your age, regular health screenings enable you to watch your well-being while catching health issues before they get out of hand. By being proactive and completing regular health screenings, you can save money by avoiding the costly complications of reactive healthcare.

It's important to note that health screenings are not meant to replace regular medical checkups or to diagnose diseases but rather to identify potential health problems so that they can be addressed early. It's always best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine which health screenings are appropriate for you based on age, gender, and medical history.

Ready to get on top of your health with regular screenings? If you are unsure what your healthcare plan covers or need more help, connecting to a licensed agent will save you time and money.

At #TRN we're the matchmakers dedicated to connecting consumers with experts they can trust.


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