Catch up on checkups after a year of COVID quarantining
Jun. 9, 2021
By Mary Wade Burnside
There is so much going on in June. It heralds the arrival of summer, with swimming, grilling out and traveling on many people’s agendas.
It’s also the month when Father’s Day is celebrated — which this year is shared with both West Virginia Day and the summer solstice.
That’s why Men’s Health Week is observed in the week leading up to Father’s Day. The general theme is that men might not be as likely to schedule checkups and routine testing as women.
Not so coincidentally, Women’s Health Week falls in May, around the same time as Mother’s Day. Because of COVID-19 events, that celebration slipped by this column space.
But let’s face it — because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people, both men and women, are behind on routine health screenings. So let’s address those now.
Here are some guidelines for both women and men:
• Physical exam: Every year if you are 50 and older, two years for 40+ and three years for 20+.
• Blood pressure: Every year for all adults.
• Tuberculosis skin test. Every five years.
• Blood panel and urinalysis: On the same schedule as the physical exam.
• Tetanus booster: Every 10 years.
• Hemoccult: Screening for minute amounts of blood in the stool, every year ages 40 and over.
• Colonoscopy: Screenings usually began at age 50, but those with symptoms and/or family histories of colon cancer should discuss this with their health care provider.
• Sexually transmitted diseases: All sexually active people should be tested for STDs at least once. Discuss with your health care provider if you should get tested more often.
• Dental: Get a checkup every six months.
The checklist for women also includes:
• An annual clinical breast exam for women ages 20 and over; an annual mammogram beginning at age 50. Once again, those with a family history of breast cancer should discuss this with their health care providers.
• Self exams: Monthly for all adults 20 and over for breast, skin and oral abnormalities.
• Women should begin getting Pap tests at the age of 21. If it’s normal, your health care provider might say you can wait three years before getting the next one.
• Bone health density test: Women should be screened beginning at age 50.
The checklist for men also includes:
• PSA blood test: Men at average risk of prostate cancer should begin discussing the prostate specific antigen test with their health care providers at age 50, according to the American Cancer Society. Men at higher than average risk should have the discussion around ages 40-45.
• Self exams: Monthly for adults 20 and over for testicles, skin, oral and breast abnormalities.
• Bone health: Screening is recommended at age 60 but discuss with your health care provider if this is the right choice for you.
• Testosterone screening: Low testosterone can lead to low sex drive, fatigue and depression. You can discuss screenings with your health care provider. Screenings usually begin at age 40.
In any given year, Monongalia County Health Department would remind adults that there are other vaccines to consider: an annual influenza vaccine, a measles vaccine if not fully inoculated, hepatitis A and B (either individually or combined) if one were not given as a child, Shingrix for shingles at age 50 and pneumococcal at age 65, unless an individual’s health indicates it should be given earlier.
You can make an appointment for those vaccines at MCHD Clinical Services by calling 304-598-5119. MCHD also conducts free STD testing and provides women’s health exams and mammogram referrals.
Looking for a dentist? MCHD Dentistry offers checkups, cleanings, restorative work, crowns, and more, with a variety of payment options. Call 304-598-5108 for an appointment.
And this wouldn’t be 2021 if MCHD also didn’t encourage anyone who hasn’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine to sign up for one today at Vaccine.WVUMedicine.org or by calling 833-795-SHOT.
Because not getting COVID-19 — or another illness or disease that can be prevented or
cured more easily if caught early — is already like winning the lottery.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.