February 28, 2022
1. Blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol screening
These three screenings help you understand the level of your heart health. All adults over the age of 20 should get a blood pressure check every two years and a blood glucose and cholesterol check every two to four years. After the age of 40 every adult should go for annual medical check ups to a specialist Physician. This will include having your blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol checked as well as a cardiac assessment.
“Obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease are life-threatening diseases. They often go undiagnosed until you present with chest pain. Blockages in the arteries can lead to a heart attack. Uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, undiagnosed hypercholestrolemia and obesity adversely effect your heart, kidneys and nervous system which could lead to ill health and premature death,” says Dr. Cindy Govender, Specialist Physician at Busamed Gateway Private Hospital in Umhlanga.
2. Skin check
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Acne, skin cancers, eczema and other skin-related ailments are of concern in your adult years.
“Melanomas are more common than people realise. Exposure to the South African sun is high and dangerous, but if you screen yourself early, you have a higher chance of successful treatment and better quality of life. If you identify any suspicious looking lesions on your skin make an appointment with your doctor immediately” says Dr. Govender.
3. HIV and STI screening
Knowing your HIV status when you are sexually active should be factored in at least once a year regardless of your risk factors. This includes new or multiple sex partners, protected and unprotected sex. Untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are equally important and can affect your reproductive organs which could lead to infertility in your later years when you desire to start a family. Examples of some STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhea.
4. Colorectal cancer screening (if at increased risk)
Understanding your colon health begins with assessing your risk factors. These factors include a family history of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis or chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Colorectal screening protocols are managed with patient comfort in mind, says Dr. Govender. “Typically, you’ll only need to do a screening once every 10 years if you are low risk. If there is a strong family history then screening is advised every 5 years. Early detection saves lives and colon cancers are treatable with a high probability of a good quality of life thereafter.”
5. Pelvic exam (for women)
Gynecological examinations are important for assessment of infertility and the detection of cervical and ovarian cancer. These examinations should start from your teen years. “For women in their 20s, a pap smear should be done every two years to screen for cervical cancer,” says Dr. Govender.
6. Eye exam
A comprehensive eye and vision exam should be done every two years to assess the health of your eye, even if you have 20/20 vision. Screening eye tests will help detect conditions such as retinopathy, enlarged optic nerves, glaucoma, retinal pigmentation, or even dry eyes,” says Dr. Govender.
The saying goes that eyes are the window to the soul, and the irony of it is that detecting a problem in the eyes could indicate a more serious underlying systemic medical condition such as diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension, connective tissue diseases or cancer.
7. Dental cleaning
On average, dental examinations should be done once a year to screen for cavities or gum diseases that could cause poor oral health and problems later on in life. Dental cleaning also helps keep your teeth in good condition which aids the quality of your life as you age.
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