Health screenings look for diseases or conditions before you have symptoms to identify chronic conditions early while they are still treatable. Many chronic medical conditions have little or no symptoms in the early stages but can still cause damage that may worsen over time. Staying proactive with yearly health screenings and following your doctor’s advice can even help you prevent some diseases from developing.
We do not yet have screenings for every disease and not all of the screenings available are recommended for everyone every year. We have collected a list of the most important screenings, by age, for you and your family. We recommend asking your healthcare provider about any additional screenings they recommend based on your family history and any risk factors or health concerns you may have. The following suggested health screen intervals are generalized and may vary between different individuals.
Newborns/Infants: Newborn babies should receive a comprehensive health screening to assess hearing, vision, blood pressure, and heart rate. In addition to physical measurements and screenings, other blood tests may be done to screen for rare disorders in those first few days. Infants should visit their healthcare provider at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months.
Early Childhood: Young children should have health screenings at 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, and 30 months. Following this, annual screenings should be sufficient unless your child has specific medical concerns. Specific health conditions, such as anemia may need to be assessed at different intervals. Check with your healthcare provider on specifics relating to the management of particular health concerns.
Middle Childhood: This applies to young children, generally up to age 10. Annual health screenings are recommended to maintain general health and screen for common health conditions. These yearly routine well-visits assess your child’s growth and development and measure things like vision, hearing, and heart rate.
Puberty/Adolescents: The same screenings apply to middle childhood. However, during this stage, health screenings are especially important to monitor specific needs of this age range, such as vaccinations, sexually transmitted infections, changes in weight, etc. As children’s bodies begin to change, it is important to stay on top of yearly preventive health screenings and to help build a habit they will continue with as adults.
Young to Middle Adulthood (ages 18 through 39): During this time period, continue with yearly screenings to maintain good health. Each year, your doctor should perform a physical exam. For women, breast exams to check for lumps are essential, as are Pap smears every three years and a test for HPV every five years. For men, a testicular exam should be done yearly. Annual blood pressure measurements and tests for high cholesterol should be done as well.
Middle Adulthood (40-64): At forty, fasting blood glucose and lipid tests at least every three years are recommended along with screening for obesity and high blood pressure. Mammograms are recommended to begin between 40 and 50 depending on family history of breast cancer. Prostate screenings for men should begin at age 50 unless there is a family history or you are a high-risk individual. Colonoscopies to detect early signs of colon cancer are recommended to begin at age 50.
65+ Years: As individuals begin to enter their elderly years, bone density screenings are important. Bone density screenings should be done every 2 to 5 years, starting around age 65. After 65 individuals should begin to consider pneumonia or shingles vaccinations.
At any age, be sure to describe any new symptoms or health concerns you may be having with your healthcare provider. It may be helpful to make a list of these and any questions you have before each visit. Regular visits with your healthcare provider and essential health screenings can lead to early detection, which can be a lifesaver when it comes to chronic disease.