5 medical tests that should be on Dad’s check-up list
This upcoming Father’s Day you can do something a little extra special for Dad by reminding him to stay proactive when it comes to his health.
Experts say whether it’s stubbornness or just not wanting to take the time to visit the doctor – men can be notorious in forgetting to keep up with regular check-ups and other important exams.
So with a little extra prodding, you can do your part in helping keep Dad healthy and happy for years to come.
So what tests are important?
Over the past three years, a panel of government experts has recommended against at least three popular tests for screening healthy men and women for various diseases including ovarian cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. The group says the tests actually do more harm than good.
And with all of the ever changing health recommendations and research out there, it can be hard for even the most dedicated person to keep track.
So we connected with Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, primary care physician with Advocate Medical Group to help you— help dad— cut through all of the clutter. Dr. DeBruler says there are a number of tried and true medical tests that every man should have on their check list to ensure they stay on the path to good health.
Below is a list of her top five recommendations.
Why you need it: To find out if you are among the nearly 30 million Americans with measurable hearing loss. If you are, getting tested can ensure your hearing doesn’t get worse. If you are not, then it’s good to know your ears are in good enough shape to take in all the noise that surrounds us.
When should you get it: There is no set age to get a hearing test, however it a good idea to get tested if you have a family history of hearing loss or if you feel your hearing is getting worse. In many cases your loved ones can tell if your hearing has gone south. If they constantly tell you that you can’t hear as well as you used to, it may be a good idea to get tested.
What to expect during the test: You can expect to wear headphones during the exam. A licensed ear, nose and throat doctor or audiologist will instruct you to listen to different sounds and tones that will determine how well you can hear.
Understanding the results: If everything is normal, you can expect to pay a visit to the audiologist or ear, nose and throat doctor for an audiogram every two to five years.
Comprehensive Eye Exam
Why you need it: To make sure your vision is in good health or to catch any eye health problems early. Eye exams can also be a good way to pinpoint other conditions you may not be aware of.
When should you get it: If you have good vision, then you should plan to get an exam every two years after you turn 40. However, if you have certain risk factors like diabetes or if you wear contact lenses or glasses then you should see your doctor annually.
What to expect during the test: Your ophthalmologist will instruct you to read a series of letters on an eye chart. He or she will use a bright light to examine your pupils, eyelids, the lining of your eye and your optic nerve for any abnormalities. You can also expect the doctor to take a peek at your irises, your retina, cornea and lenses for any other problems or signs of cataracts.
Understanding the results: Depending on your results, your doctor may recommend you get glasses or contact lenses. If there are signs of other conditions like glaucoma, you may be instructed to use eye drops. In some cases if the drops do not work, you may have to undergo laser therapy or surgery.
Heart Health Test
When should you get it: Annual exams usually start around age 20. Knowing your family history is important because sharing that information with your physician will give them a better idea of what kind of additional heart health testing you may need. It also allows them to develop a personalized treatment plan based on your needs.
What to expect during the test: A routine blood pressure test is typically performed during your annual checkup. A monitoring cuff is placed on your upper arm area and the machine captures your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers. If you have a family history of hypertension or may have been experiencing any chest pain or shortness of breath, you may have to get a stress test, which requires varying degrees of physical exertion or an electrocardiogram to ensure your heart is healthy.
Understanding the results: If your blood pressure is within a normal range 120/80, then you heart is in good health. If your blood pressure is higher than 130/90, you could be developing hypertension and your doctor will establish a personalized treatment plan for you.
Why you need it: Lipid profiles have been shown to be good indicators of whether someone is at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
When should you get it: A screening is recommended by age 25. If your results are normal, your doctor may schedule a follow up screening every five years. Any abnormalities may result in more frequent testing.
What to expect during the test: You will be asked to fast for 12 hours prior to the test. A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm. Sometimes a drop of blood is collected by puncturing the skin on a fingertip.
Understanding the results: Your doctor will review the tests and develop a customized treatment plan based on your risk factors. Typically a goal of < 200 total cholesterol is desired.
Why you need it: To learn whether or not you are at risk for developing skin cancer or may have skin cancer.
When should you get it: Screenings are recommended annually. However, if you notice any mole abnormalities like odd coloring, an irregular shape or border or any difference in asymmetry, you should contact your doctor to schedule a screening.
What to expect during the test: A full body exam may be required. Your dermatologist will take a look at any moles or skin lesions through a magnifying glass to ensure your skin is in good health.
Understanding the results: If an abnormal mole is found, your doctor will likely recommend a biopsy of the area so that a pathologist can do further testing. The results of the pathologist evaluation will determine your future course of treatment.
For more information about medical tests and screenings offered at Downers Grove, Ill. based Advocate Health Care visit www.advocatehealth.com/tests.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.