A regular health checkup is vitally important to undertake throughout your life.
This holds true even if you feel in peak mental and physical shape.
Insidious illnesses such as heart disease and cancers can manifest themselves slowly, sometimes with few or no obvious symptoms.
If not detected early enough, they can result in significant problems and ultimately tragic but also avoidable outcomes.
That’s why maintaining your health with a vigilant checkup routine both at home and with your GP is so critical.
A checkup with your GP typically involves an honest chat about how you are feeling, taking into account your age, lifestyle and family history.
It may also include some simple and non-invasive tests such as a blood pressure check and a likely full blood screen.
Even in the probable event that such a checkup does not reveal a serious health issue, it may point to some potential issues later in life which you can delay by making positive changes now.
Health maintenance throughout your life
Health checkups are important for people of all ages but the reality is, the older you are, the more often you should book one.
Some diseases may present at any age and should be monitored closely throughout your life.
We live in a sunburnt country and the reality is, only New Zealand has a higher rate of melanoma than Australia.
GPs can check for dangerous sun spots.
They may either treat them or refer you to a dermatologist for further assessment and care.
Always be vigilant with new or changing moles on your skin and don’t delay in having them checked.
Your GP isn’t your only go-to. You should also visit a dentist at least every 12 months.
Cavities lead to gum disease which has been linked to heart disease and other health problems.
A dental hygienist will also scale and remove plaque from both sides of your teeth.
In your 20s
Sexually active women and all women from age 25 should be screened for cervical cancer every five years.
The traditional pap smear test was replaced in 2017 by the human papillomavirus (HPV) test.
The test removes a sample of cells from the cervix with a long thin swab to check for the presence of the HPV virus and then potentially any cell changes.
This is most common in young men aged 20-40.
Self-examination is recommended monthly with anyone detecting a solid lump, often only in one testicle, advised to seek immediate medical attention.
When detected early, outcomes are extremely positive.
Sexually transmitted diseases
If you are sexually active with multiple partners, a chlamydia test is recommended every year.
Chlamydia is a common disease that doesn’t always present symptoms and can be detected via a simple urine test.
If you believe you are at risk of other STDs, talk to your doctor about the need for further testing including herpes and HIV.
In your 30s and 40s
Heart disease tends to start becoming an issue for some people in their mid-40s.
For Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, it may strike from age 30.
The Heart Foundation advises a heart health checkup every two years during this phase of your life.
Your doctor will talk to you about risk factors including your family history, your diet, weight and lifestyle including exercise and smoking.
A blood test can reveal your cholesterol and triglyceride levels which are major indicators of potential disease.
Further tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or calcium score check may be ordered if deemed necessary.
Type 2 diabetes becomes a consideration for people in their 40s or as early as 18 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
At least two million Australians are at high risk of developing the disease.
Obesity, smoking and high blood pressure are major risk factors as well as genetics.
Feeling thirsty and urinating more regularly are signs that a test may be worthwhile.
It is normally diagnosed using a glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test which indicates your average blood sugar levels for the past 2-3 months.
Early diagnosis and lifestyle adjustments are critical to successful management.
In your 50s
Australia runs a National Bowel Cancer Screening Program offering citizens simple, free tests in the privacy of their own homes to detect blood in their stool.
These tests should be conducted every two years for people aged 50-74.
Early detection results in a positive prognosis in 90% of cases.
Women aged over 40 can be screened for free while those aged 50-74 are recommended a free mammogram through Breastscreen Australia every two years.
This may be conducted even more often depending on your family history and other risk factors.
Monthly tests at home are also advised with anyone detecting any lumps or changes to see their GP immediately.
Bone density test
This is recommended after the age of 50 and particularly for anyone with a low body weight, heavy drinkers or anyone with a long history of corticosteroid use or underwent premature menopause.
The test is done by way of a low-dose X-ray scan of the hip and spine.
Unlike most other cancers, there is no medical consensus on the best method of detection for prostate cancer.
Hence it is a decision each man aged over 50 must make himself, in consultation wth his GP.
A physical examination via the rectum and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test as part of a routine blood test are the two most common methods.
Pain or difficulty urinating, or blood in urine or semen may be signs of prostate disease.
In your 60s
Eyesight and hearing checks
Most of us become aware when our eyes or ears begin failing.
Your doctor can also carry out basic tests or refer you to specialists to restore your appreciation of the wonders of sight and sound.
An optometrist can also check for more serious eye ailments such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Book an appointment
Having honest conversations and building a solid rapport with your doctor with a regular scheduled health checkup is the best way we can maintain health throughout our lives.
At AHA Clinics, our doctors will develop a strategy for your ongoing health care.
They will offer advice on changes to your lifestyle, assess your risk profile and monitor your progress as you age.
Prevention is so much easier than cure.
Detecting minor health issues before they evolve into major ones is the most effective way to ensure you live a long, happy and healthy life.
Remember, health checks are important at every age but should become more frequent as we grow older.
Book an appointment here today at the Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or the Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.