From Top to Bottom
Your Guide for Maintaining Health and Wellness
You have been gifted with the beautiful blessing of life. Maintaining your body’s optimal health can sometimes be a difficult, and even confusing task. There are, however, certain steps you can take each year to keep yourself tuned up from top to… ahem… bottom.
Comprehensive Annual Checkup
Finding a good PCP (primary care physician) or health care provider and establishing yourself as a patient is a good first step to overall health maintenance. Your PCP will work with you to reach healthy goals and address your specific medical concerns.
An annual physical is believed to be an important tradition between patient and PCP. It’s a source of reassurance for many, and for others it’s a chance to determine health problems before they become serious.
Your doctor may wish to see you more frequently if there are other risk factors involved—such as borderline high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, heart disease, or a family history of certain cancers—which could warrant regular check-ups no matter your age.
The bottom line: Make an appointment with your health care provider to establish your baseline health, and visit them when you have specific health concerns.
You might want to keep ‘em peeled for a good optometrist in your late thirties and early forties. That’s when most of us start to notice things are not as clear and focused as they used to be. You may also notice trouble adjusting to glare, or distinguishing colors. The National Eye Institute assures us these changes are a normal part of aging. A quick check of the eyes by a good optometrist will determine if you or your children need reading glasses, and if any eye disease or other early signs of trouble are present.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), children should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months of age, and receive additional eye exams at three years of age. Another exam should be performed right before they enter kindergarten or the first grade at age five or six.
What we were taught to do at an early age still holds true today—brush after every meal. To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental visits determined by a dentist, depending on the patient’s oral health status and health history.
The ADA says that patients with a low risk of periodontal disease may benefit from just one cleaning per year, where a higher-risk patient will need more frequent cleanings—possibly every three or six months.
Get moving! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two hours and thirty minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week is optimal for adults ages 18-64 years old. Divide that two hours and thirty minutes by the number of days you want to exercise, and it becomes a little less intimidating.
Slather on the protection every time you head outside. Just make sure it offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water resistant. Use 1 ounce (enough to mostly fill a shot glass) and adjust according to your body size.
Colon Cancer Screening
It isn’t exactly a pleasant topic, but don’t allow that to keep you from getting this important screening that could save your life. According to the American Cancer Society, starting at age 50, both men and women should have a:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
- Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years.
Screening Guidelines for Women
The American Cancer Society recommends these guidelines:
Breast cancer screening:
- Women ages 45-54, every year (may start at age 40 if desired)
- Women 55 and older, every 1-2 years
- Women ages 21-29, at least every 3 years to screen for cervical cancer.
- Women ages 30-65, every 5 years, including an HPV test.
- Most doctors also recommend an annual “well woman exam.”
By Melissa Gautier