Cancel Routine Health Screenings During the Pandemic? What to Do Now
Many Americans put off routine health screenings during the pandemic because they did not want to venture into healthcare settings. However, with a widely available vaccine and a better understanding of the virus, it is time to get these screenings back on your calendar. Here are the screenings that you should prioritize in the coming months.
Routine Health Screenings
If you have not had a general health screening in over a year, now is the time to do so. Under normal circumstances, most adults should have a routine checkup once per year. This is when your physician should check your blood pressure, weight, and other vitals. Your doctor will also use this time to determine your risk of other serious health conditions so that you can take the proper steps in a timely manner.
A routine health check is also a good time to check to ensure that you are up to date on all of your vaccinations. Immunizations such as a shingles shot or a tetanus booster can be taken care of during this visit. Lastly, your doctor may order bloodwork to check for other types of medical issues.
The medical profession is bracing for an uptick in cancer cases because so many people put off these screenings for over a year due to the pandemic. It is imperative that you do not delay in getting these screenings, especially if you have a past history of cancer or are at an elevated risk. There are a number of cancer screenings that you need to consider.
- Mammograms - Women over the age of 40 need to discuss with their doctor when they should start getting regular mammograms. People with a family history of breast cancer may need to start screenings even earlier. By the age of 50, every woman should be receiving regular mammograms at annual intervals.
- Pap Smear - Women between the ages of 21 to 29 years need to be screened for cervical cancer through the use of a pap smear every three years, potentially more if they are sexually active. Once you hit age 30, you may be able to drop these screenings back to every five years if you only have one sexual partner.
- Colonoscopies - Most healthcare providers will recommend colonoscopies starting at the age of 50. Some physicians have dropped this age down to 45, depending on individual risk factors. This procedure should be performed at least every 10 years.
It is important to undergo these screenings at the recommended intervals so that your physician always has baseline results to compare the latest findings to. Comparing images is a primary way that doctors track potential issues.
Mental Health Screenings
You are not alone if you feel as if your mental health has suffered as a result of the pandemic. This has been a challenging year for nearly everyone, making it important that you use this time of renewal to address any mental health issues. Your doctor will be able to provide treatment recommendations or prescribe medication to help you to combat any lingering issues.
Many hospitals canceled all elective procedures as the virus swept through their facilities and strained staff and resources. However, these procedures are running at the full schedule for most hospitals now that the virus is largely under control. This is the time to finally address those issues that you have put on the backburner because of the health crisis.
An eye exam is more than just a necessity to renew your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. An eye doctor uses this screening to check for a variety of health issues that may present themselves through the eyes. Examples include high cholesterol, diabetes, or a thyroid deficiency.
In addition to your regular eye exam, you also need to be on top of scheduling any dental checkups that you may have missed. After over a year of dealing with the pandemic, most dental offices have figured out how to safely offer these routine exams. You should schedule a dental exam and cleaning every six months.
Do not put off these screenings any longer. What you do today can have a detrimental effect on your health down the road.
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