Medical Tests For Women Of Every Age
Getting medical tests can be a nuisance and maybe even a little (very) scary, but this highly preventative practice is enough to shake off the minor inconvenience and understandable apprehension in order to maintain your health. Medical testing has become a vital part of our healthcare system with a start that dates back over 3,000 years. Diagnosing certain diseases early on can allow you the opportunity to treat and/or prevent the disease from progressing. It can be overwhelming to think about how many tests exist, but there are some standard ones to take. Below is an important list of screenings and tests for women of different age groups.
Tests For Women Ages 18 - 35
At least by age 21 or within 3 years of being sexually active, you should plan on getting this test done, then every 2 to 3 years. It's just a swab of cells from your cervix doctors test for irregularities. The result of this diagnoses can prevent the spread of cervical cancer.
Skin Cancer Screenings
It is fine to get a skin cancer screening at any age, but especially if you have sensitive, fair skin, or are prone to freckling. During the process, a dermatologist checks your entire body including the scalp and between fingers and toes for moles and skin growths, measuring and taking samples from any moles that look abnormal. This screening is paramount as skin cancer is the #1 diagnosed cancer in this country. More and more women have been diagnosed with skin cancer due to the influx of tanning beds and a higher participation of women in outdoor sports/activities. Women are at risk and should be mindful of new developments on their skin and scalp.
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Clinical Breast Exam and Mammogram
A professional breast examination can begin at age 20, but women should continue to self-examine breasts on a regular basis - checking for lumps, rashes, leakage or glaring differences in the chest area. A mammogram is the standard practice for discovering lumps. It is an x-ray that is used to look for masses in the breasts. It is recommended to schedule your mammogram after a period so breasts are not so tender. By 40 you should have a mammogram every year along with a self-examination periodically.
Eye Exam and Vision Screening
These tests can start at age 18, and then every 1 to 3 years until age 61. After 61, depending on your vision you may be encouraged to get your eyes examined more frequently. A vision screening is solely to measure eyesight while an eye exam screens for diseases such as glaucoma and retinopathy - damage to the retina.
Cholesterol Screening/ Lipid Profile
These usually start at age 20. Your blood is tested for varying levels of good (HDL) cholesterol, bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. If your bad cholesterol levels are high, your doctor may prescribe a diet change, weight loss (including exercise) or medication to aid with lowering your cholesterol.
Tests For Women Ages 35-45
At 35 this test is usually administered, every 3 - 5 years after that, then annually after 60. Women are at a higher risk for developing thyroid problems most likely due to hormones. This is a simple blood test to examine the amount of thyroid stimulating hormones are in your blood. Underactive or overactive thyroid may result in weight loss, weight gain, insomnia or fatigue.
Vitamin D Test
Women who are at least 40 should take this test. If you are at risk or show signs of osteoporosis, you should take it before age 40. The Vitamin D test is becoming more and more popular as doctors are discovering the correlation between Vitamin D, healthy bones and osteoporosis. The blood test measures the level of Vitamin D in your system. Because women make up 80% of bone loss cases, it is imperative to be aware of Vitamin D intake and adjust your diet accordingly. Vitamin D deficiency is more likely to occur as we get older because our body struggles to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun.
If you don't have any symptoms of diabetes, you should start screening for diabetes at the age of 45 and repeated every 3-5 years. If you're pregnant, you should be very careful and monitor what you eat during pregnancy because many women develop gestational diabetes around the 24th week. It is important to predict and prevent gestational diabetes as the diagnoses also increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future. Doctors check to see how your body absorbs glucose by taking a blood test after you drink a sugary solution.
Tests For Women Ages 45-50+
Metabolic Syndrome test
Metabolic Syndrome is a group of symptoms that together increases the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. At age 50, then every 3-5 years along with cholesterol and diabetes screenings, women should be tested for this syndrome. During the screening, tests are run to find multiple issues. If a combination of three are found, the doctor will encourage further testing. The factors include: obesity, high blood pressure, high and dangerously low cholesterol and glucose levels.
Colonoscopy or Sigmoidoscopy
Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that is curable 90% of the time. But it can be fatal if not caught in its early stages. Farrah Fawcett was a victim of colon cancer, and it has been noted that most women are still less likely to get screened. When they do it is probable that the stage of cancer is more advanced and more difficult to treat. Colon cancer has been long thought as a "man's disease" but that is completely false as it develops in men and women equally.
The exam includes the insertion of a camera into the rectum to examine the entire colon, which is a colonoscopy or just the lower section of the colon, the Sigmoidoscopy. The doctors are looking for polyps or lesions. It's crucial to detect irregularities in early stages. If you don't have any risk factors, you can have a test every 10 years after the age of 50. If your family member has colon cancer, you should get tested 10 years before when they were diagnosed. For instance, if a family membered was diagnosed at 55, you should get tested by age 45.
Always Communicate With Your Doctor
Living healthy and having an active role in your preventative care can go a long way! These are just a few preemptive or important tests to take, but depending on your familial history with disease there may be some tests on the list that you need more than others. Remember, everybody is different - be sure to consult with your doctor to personalize the best timing of the screening tests you need based on your health condition, family history and other factors.