Every stage in life comes with its own joys and challenges. Making the most of each year requires a positive mindset, strong social connections, exciting activities to take part in – and good overall health.
A balanced diet and regular medical checkups can make this last part easier to keep an eye on, but there are other steps worth taking as well. Certain types of illnesses and other health conditions become more likely at specific periods in life, and there are many medical tests available that can provide a valuable early warning time if you are at risk.
From your teens onwards, let’s look at each recommended medical test by age, so that you can help prevent potential issues before they occur.
No matter your age, an essential preliminary task is to find the right primary care physician and establish your medical history with them, especially when living abroad. Getting baseline readings on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and body mass index will help the doctor spot anomalies later – particularly if you make them aware of health conditions within your family history.
If this means you need to ask your relatives about family health, then ask. We each inherit quite a lot from our family members, including the likelihood of developing genetic diseases. Any attempt to organise each medical test by age should account for family history and current symptoms.
Testicular cancer most commonly arises between the ages of 25-34, and so young men should begin doing occasional self-exams from 20 years old onwards.
Young women should also begin having pap smears every three years from the age of 21, as cervical cancer is the most common tumour among young women. From 30 onwards, it should be done every three years until the age of 65. Self breast exams are also recommended and should be followed up on with a doctor if any issues become apparent.
When men or women start to become sexually active, it is essential to start getting checked for sexually transmitted diseases. The longer an STD goes without being diagnosed and treated, the more harm it can do over time.
As we become ever more glued to our screens, it is vital to protect our sight. Eye exams should also be performed once every two years, beginning in early adulthood, to check for vision issues as well as eye health. After 45 years of age, annual eye check is necessary.
The skin should also be checked regularly for new spots, freckles and moles, which may be an early indicator of skin cancer. Skin cancer is a serious risk for people who spend time in sunny environments, particularly those with fair skin. This being said, you are at risk of getting skin cancer regardless of you skin colour.
Dental check-ups should be a part of your regular schedule, with a visit to the dentist’s office recommended once every six months throughout your life.
Between the age of 35-40 you should get an assessment at least once every two years. This requires a clinical examination, measuring your vital signs, blood tests and a chest x-ray. Especially from your 40s onwards, keeping a close eye on blood pressure should be a health priority. In fact, our doctor, says that for men “it’s now wise to regularly get cardiovascular evaluation, and for that you need a cardiologist”. In addition, if you seem to experience new changes in mood, sleep habits or weight, your physician should test your thyroid function.
As mentioned above, women should get tested for cervical cancer once every three years during this period, to catch any symptoms early should they occur.
From the age of 40, women should start actively screening their breasts, with a mammogram combined with a breast ultrasound on a yearly basis.
During this period in life, it is recommended to have a colonoscopy to screen for the risk of colorectal cancer and dependent on the test results of the first screening you should then have one every three or five years. Men should also begin screening for prostate cancer at 45-50.
Women experiencing menopause may also want to consult their doctor if symptoms become overly burdensome.
Age 60 and up
Scans for lung cancer are recommended during this time, for those who smoke or used to smoke for a significant period of their lives.
Vision and hearing checks should be done with greater frequency during this stage in life, as part of your regular physical check-ups. Eye-related conditions, in particular, are a higher risk for people in this age group.
It also becomes important during this period to be scanned for bone density, particularly if risk factors of osteoporosis (or brittle bones) are evident.
Other important points
Please note that every person’s body creates its unique medical history, and the above recommendations are only to be taken as the most general of guidelines. Consult your doctor often with questions and concerns you may have about your health, and about which is the right medical test by age.
Note also that tests and screenings do not cover all the risks you are likely to face. In an earlier blog post, we discussed the six most common life-threatening causes of hospitalisation in Thailand, some of which can’t be prevented by early screening, as they can depend on healthy lifestyles, careful daily living and other factors.
For any stage of a person’s life, it is essential to have the right treatment whenever it is needed. Quality care depends on having comprehensive medical insurance, and Luma provides some of the most popular and dependable international health insurance plans in Thailand. Whether you are old or young, contact Luma today for local insurance and expat health insurance to keep yourself in good health moving forward.