Regular Health Checks. Is it time to pay your GP a visit?
Even if you and your family are in good health, it’s wise to make time for regular check-ups to make sure you keep it that way. But when are the best times for you and your family to visit a doctor?
When to get a check-up from your GP largely depends on your time of life, gender, and whether you have any chronic medical conditions.
As any parent with young children knows, visits to the doctor seem to be a frequent occurrence, whether it’s for routine vaccinations, suspect rashes or the inevitable bouts of colds and flu. While newborn babies should be examined at birth, it’s also advisable to have them checked at seven-days to ensure feeding is going well and to review physical development from head-to-toe. After this, kids should then be regularly assessed by your GP when their vaccinations are due at 6, 12 and 18 months of age, as well as two, four and six years old. At four years, a Healthy Kids Check should be scheduled to ensure kids are ready for school. This is really the last age-specific formal review recommended for children, with health checks beyond this age occurring as needed.
From six to 18 years, there’s no real need to schedule regular check-ups so long as your child visits a doctor at least once a year for other reasons. During these visits, it’s a good opportunity to ask your doctor to check your child’s growth, physical, social and emotional well-being, as well discuss with them the importance of sun protection and injury prevention.
Tammy Wynette once sang ‘sometimes it’s hard to be a woman’ which is a sentiment that many women can relate to when it comes to the screening tests for cervical and breast cancer. But the good news is these simple tests are highly effective at detecting issues and this leads to greatly improved health outcomes for women. With this in mind, women are encouraged to start regular two-yearly PAP screening for cervical cancer from 18 years of age, or two years after they become sexually active (whichever is the later). Two-yearly screening for breast cancer should begin for all women from 50 years-of-age, and women should pay attention to how their breasts look and feel so they can report any changes to their GP. Women with a strong family history of breast cancer should discuss the possibility of commencing earlier breast screening regimes with their GP.
They say, ‘if you can measure if, you can manage it’, so it’s important for both men and women to have a one-off formal health assessment between 45-49 years-of-age to determine their level of risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. Scheduling regular check-ups roughly every two years thereafter improves health outcomes through earlier identification and better management of chronic disease. From 50 years, two-yearly screening for colorectal cancer is also encouraged for both men and women.
Living on the Sunshine Coast and having an outdoors lifestyle means developing skin cancer is a concern for most people. For this reason it’s important to be familiar with the look of your skin and to have any skin lesions checked if they have changed or are new. It’s a good idea to have your skin checked every one to two years, depending on your risks, which include being over 30, having fair skin, a family history of melanoma, having significant UV exposure as a child and your current degree of sun exposure.
If you’re over 65, there’s an increasing risk of having a fall or developing a chronic disease which may impact on your quality of life. As with every stage of life, it pays to maintain a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise and good nutrition. Your GP can help you with this. People over 75 should have a formal health assessment to determine the risk of falls, level of mobility, cognitive function and to determine whether any assistance may be needed to enable people to continue to live independently in their own homes for longer.
A Final Word
Keep in mind that these guidelines are general so if you have any concerns about your health, it’s always best to see your GP. When it comes to health, everyone is different, but once thing is certain – by being proactive and developing a good relationship with your GP you will give yourself a much better chance of living a happier, healthier and longer life, and who doesn’t want that?
IMPORTANT NOTE: This information is a guide only and does not replace the in-person assessment of a qualified medical practitioner.