Every year when I open the first page of my new calendar, I feel excited about the things that will fill my calendar over the next year. While New Years' resolutions never work for me, I do make sure the things that need to be done for my health are planned in advance. I would recommend you do the same so that at the end of the year you achieve your health and wellness goals.
While there may be other specific health recommendations that apply to you, the following list applies to all of us. Read the list and fit it into your empty calendar and busy life.
Yearly visits to your primary care provider
• For example, a neurologist doesn’t usually address all your health needs. They should collaborate with your primary care provider to be sure everyone has the same information about your health.
Over 20 years old
• Lab work to check blood lipids and blood sugar at least every five years
Over 40 years old
• Lab work to check thyroid, especially women and people complaining of fatigue
• Vision exam and glaucoma check every two to four years from ages 40 to 65 and then yearly
Over 50 years old
• Test stool samples for occult blood yearly
• Sigmoidoscopy every five years
• Colonoscopy every 10 years or more often if there are risk factors
• Bone density tests can be done at any time. People with MS may be at greater risk for osteoporosis and may need to be checked at a younger age. Women nearing menopause will be increasing their risk, also.
• Blood sugar may be done more often if there are risk factors of obesity or a family history of type II diabetes.
• Pap smear: every one to three years for women who are or have been sexually active, and who still have a cervix
• Breast exam: by a provider yearly
• Self breast exam: monthly
• Mammogram: every one to two years from ages 40 to 50 and then yearly
• Prostate exam: yearly after age 50 except for African Americans or those with a family history who should start at age 40
• PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test: yearly after age 50 except for African Americans or those with a family history who should start at age 40
• Clinical testicular exam: yearly
• Testicular self exam: monthly after age 18
Dental care is also important and you should see your dentist every six months.
These are general recommendations. You should discuss what your particular needs are with your primary care provider. Start with an appointment for a physical exam or general check up and then find out what your next steps will be.
Don't let that calendar get full before you take care of yourself and your health.
For more information, please read the following National MS Society brochures: