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Time for a tune-up? Here’s what you should get screened for, and when.

07 September 2020

We all make sure we get our cars serviced so they start when we put the key in the ignition and get us safely to our destination. We should take the same care with our health.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a traffic light stuck on our bodies, telling us when everything is fine (green), we better make some changes (amber) or something isn’t right (red). Wouldn’t that be handy?

That’s why regular health checks are so important. They’re not about finding disease – they’re about keeping our minds and bodies tuned to prevent a blowout.

So what should we be getting checked and when? We’ve asked our community health nurse, Corina, for her advice.

Please note these are general guidelines only. Please speak to your GP for individualised advice.

What to check and when: an A-Z guide

Blood pressure every year.
If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension or have a family history, your GP will let you know how often it should be checked.

Blood test for blood sugars, cholesterol, kidney function, etc every one to five years.
If you are experiencing health issues or have a strong family history, your GP will direct you.

Bone density for people aged 50 and over.
Discuss how often with your GP.

Bowel screening every two years from the age of 50.
You should be checking out your bowel actions every time you go to the loo. If there are changes that are not normal for you, see your GP.

Breast screening every two years from the age of 40.
Men and women should check their own breasts every month. If you notice any changes that are not normal for you, see your GP.

Woman unhooking bra
IMAGE COURTESY JEAN HAILES

Dental check every year or as directed by your dentist.
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.

Emotional health check in with yourself every day and ask for help if you need it.

Eyes every year from the age of 65.
If you are younger and have existing eye conditions or a family history of eye disease, ask your eye specialist how often to get your eyes checked.

Hearing for people aged 50 and over.
Discuss how often with your GP.

PAP tests every five years for women aged between 25 and 74 years.

Prostate for men aged 40 and older.
Discuss how often with your GP.

Sexual health every year as soon as you become sexually active, if you have new sexual partners, or you have health issues.
This test is no big deal – it’s usually just a urine sample or swab.

Skin health every year with a health professional.
Check your own skin every time you have a shower – if you notice a change, see your GP.

Testicular checks for guys – do this every time you shower (from your teens onwards).

Vaccinations get vaccinated against the flu every year, and speak to your GP about booster vaccinations you may be due for.

Flu shot vaccination

Where to get checked?

Do you need to see your GP for all these tests? No.

Many chemists offer free health checks, like your blood pressure, weight, body mass index (BMI), heart rate and diabetes risk. Some chemists can perform a random cholesterol check for a small fee, while you can get your eyes checked at the optometrist and hearing tests done at any audiologist.

Remember: you are the captain of your own ship. If you notice changes in your health and wellbeing, you owe it to yourself and the people who care about you to get checked out. A small problem will have an easy fix. And, you can put your mind at ease by simply asking a trusted health professional ‘is this normal’.

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