Preventive care, including screenings, dental check-ups and vaccinations, reduces the risk for diseases, disabilities and death. Yet millions of people of all ages (including children) in the U.S. don’t get the preventive health care services and routine medical checkups they need to keep themselves healthy.
Now is the time to schedule appointments for 2024. You should schedule an annual wellness checkup once a year if you are under the age of 50 and in generally good health. If you have any chronic diseases such as diabetes or respiratory conditions, you will typically see your doctor more frequently, and they will suggest how many checkups you need based on your health history. Otherwise, the frequency of your medical checkups should be based on your age, gender, risk factors and current health status.
It’s important for your child to have regularly scheduled health checkups, often called well-child visits. These start shortly after birth and are more frequent during the first few years, and then become yearly occasions if there are no major health concerns.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a standard schedule for kids’ general health exams: babies should be seen 3-5 days after birth, and then at 1, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months. After they turn 1 year old, toddlers should be seen at 15, 18, 24 and 30 months. By the time a child is 3 years old, they should come in once a year for a well check (which then continues as an annual checkup as an adult).
These visits allow your doctor to examine your child’s physical and behavioral development. Along with head-to-toe physical examination, they conduct screenings for vision, hearing, blood pressure, urinalysis and anemia among other things. Immunizations are also administered at this time.
An obvious but important benefit of having regular checkups is finding potentially life-threatening health issues before they become more complicated or serious—and expensive. Getting early treatment, regularly monitoring existing issues and staying up to date on vaccinations are all part of improving your life and being aware of your health.
Elements of medical checkups are different for males and females based on their biological needs, such as a PAP smear for females and testicular exams for males. But certain screenings and tests are included for all adults during routine medical checkups. Some of these tests include blood pressure screening, a cholesterol check, body mass index evaluation, skin examination, blood glucose test and colon cancer screening.
PHYSICAL EXAMS & TESTS FOR MALES:
Prostate Exam: At age 45, men should begin talking with their primary care provider about getting a baseline prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. At age 50, annual PSA tests and digital rectal exams are encouraged.
Testicular Exam: Speak with your doctor to see when you should begin official screens, but you are able to check for testicular masses at home monthly.
Colorectal Cancer Exam: There are a variety of tests available to check growths on the colon or rectum, but you should begin checking at age 45.
PHYSICAL EXAMS & TESTS FOR FEMALES:
Mammography: It’s important to get mammograms to check for breast cancer every two years for women ages 50-74.
Pap Smear: A Pap test is recommended every three years for women 21 and older to check for cervical cancer.
Pelvic Exam: This might be part of your regular checkup if the doctor recommends it, and it checks the health of your reproductive organs—signs of ovarian cysts, sexually transmitted infections, etc.