As the new year rolls around, some common new year’s resolutions people make include: Exercising, eating healthy, quitting smoking, or managing your alcohol intake. These often top the list of resolutions, showing how health is a top priority for many people.
A key step not to overlook in monitoring your own health is also by undergoing regular health checkups and screenings. If you are not already implementing these into your health routine, this year may be a good time to start.
What is health screening?
Health screenings are a vital part of personal healthcare as they can help you detect conditions early, even before symptoms arise. In turn, early intervention lets you and your doctor perform early intervention to keep your condition under control. By managing your condition from its infancy, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing further complications later on.
There is an extensive number of screening tests available, so it will be useful to find out from your doctor about which are recommended for you. As a general guide, the health screenings you should undergo at each age are outlined below:
At this age, the risk for most chronic conditions are still low, so doctors don’t usually see a need for a battery of tests. Instead, look out for obesity through a body-mass index measurement, and keep track of your blood pressure. These two factors can inform you of your risk of cardiovascular disease, which is something to be concerned about, especially if you have a family history of heart disease.
Other routine checks you will want to keep up with are your usual vision and dental checks. In addition, sexually active persons should consider being tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Women are also recommended to go for pap smears once every three years to check for cervical cancer.
The risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes picks up around this age band, so doctors recommend starting to go for comprehensive blood tests. The blood tests can tell you your blood glucose and cholesterol levels, which are key indicators for diabetes and heart disease respectively.
Watch out for thyroid disease – which affects metabolism and overall body functions – with a thyroid function test, which detects the level of thyroid hormone in your blood. Another test you may consider is the vitamin D deficiency test, which measures the level of vitamin in the blood. Vitamin D is suggested to be important for preventing and treating diabetes, and its deficiency has been associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
As an ongoing effort to detect and manage your heart health, you should continue to keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol, or start if you haven’t. In addition, as you enter your forties, the risk for cancers like lung cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer become more concerning.
Heavy smokers at high risk of lung cancer should get a lung cancer screening. For men, you should begin to get checked for prostate cancer especially if you are obese, on a high-fat diet, or have a family history of prostate cancer. For women, a mammogram once every 2 years is recommended.
Age 50 and above
The risk for chronic conditions and cancers continues to rise as a person passes the fifty-year mark. One silent killer that does not often present symptoms till a late stage is colon cancer. For detection of colon cancer, an endoscopy of the colon (colonoscopy) every 10 years or a yearly faecal immunochemical test is highly recommended.
Other common conditions for this age include ailing vision, increased forgetfulness, and hearing loss. You should get these monitored regularly at a holistic health checkup, and be on the lookout for the onset of dementia.
Health screenings for you
For personalised recommendations taking into account your lifestyle and family’s medical history, do consult your doctor. With regard to cost, you won’t have to worry about footing the bills – in Singapore, citizens and PRs enjoy generous subsidies on various health screenings. Consult your GP or enquire at a polyclinic to find out more about the schemes you are eligible for, and kick off your new year with a commitment to better health!