How annual exams change over the years

How annual exams change over the years

An annual exam is crucial for maintaining your health. It allows you and your health care provider to keep track of any changes in your health. 

But annual exams change a little over time, according to Dr. Kevin Koo, a family medicine physician with Advocate Health Care. “Some conditions like heart disease or stroke become more likely as you get older, so we’ll start to talk to you about how your individual health may be affected by these increased risks.” 

Recommended screenings 

Screenings for specific conditions start at different ages and are suggested at different intervals. Screening for cervical cancer via a Pap test is recommended starting at age 21 with a repeat screening test every three years. Other commonly recommended screenings are: 

  • Type 2 diabetes screening Beginning at age 35 for people who are overweight
  • Breast cancer screening Beginning at age 45
  • Colon cancer screening — Beginning at age 45 
  • Bone density screening Beginning at age 65 
  • Prostate cancer screening — For men between 50 and 70 years old, a shared decision-making discussion should occur with your doctor. African American men may consider starting conversations earlier due to increased risk.

Any of these screenings may be recommended at younger ages depending on your gender, ethnicity, race, symptoms or your family health history. 

“Some things don’t change with age,” says Dr. Koo. “If you smoke, we’ll recommend quitting. If you smoke, used to smoke and are older than 40, or have symptoms that may suggest lung disease, we may encourage you to get screened for lung cancer. 

Vaccination schedules 

Recommendations for vaccines change, too. Adults of any age should get vaccines for COVID, flu, HPV and Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis per their doctor’s guidance. When you turn 50, your doctor may recommend the shingles vaccination whether you have had chicken pox or not. When you turn 60, they may recommend vaccines for pneumonia and RSV. 

These vaccinations protect against diseases and lessen the severity of symptoms in case you do get those diseases. If you have a compromised immune system, your doctor may make different recommendations about vaccines. Vaccinations may be recommended earlier depending on other personal risk factors. 

Dr. Koo notes that as you age, you may start to take daily medications for some chronic conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. You may be asked to come in more than once a year to ensure the medications aren’t affecting your liver and kidneys.

These types of medications are monitored more closely: 
  • Diuretics, medications that increase urine production 
  • ACE inhibitors, medications that lower blood pressure 
  • HIV medications 

Amid all of these screenings and tests at your next annual exam, remember that the reason for it all is to preserve your health.  

Do you need an annual exam? Schedule an appointment in Illinois or Wisconsin.  

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About the Author

Jo Linsley
Jo Linsley

Jo Linsley, a health enews contributor, is a freelance copywriter at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. With decades of experience in writing and editing, she continues to aspire to concise and inspiring writing. She also enjoys knitting and singing as creative outlets and for their meditative qualities.