Doctor Teresa Holt, a family medicine specialist, says some tests simply must be done. Among the basics, men and women over eighteen should be checking blood pressure. Number of years between tests? Only one! It should be done every year.
From 18 on, we should also be getting eye evaluations. "We do a screening eye exam at least once every three years. Once a year is not a bad idea," says Dr. Holt.
Then there's the fasting blood sugar test starting at age of thirty, done every three years. The patient can't eat for several hours before the test. "Fasting cholesterol is recommended by about age 30 in men and age 40 in women," says Dr. Holt.
Colonoscopies start at age 50, but can go every ten years if they're normal.
Extras for men...Dr. Holt says you may not need a prostate exam. Ask your doctor. "There have been no clinical trials that prove that routine screening for prostate cancer decreases a patient's likelihood of dying from prostate cancer," says Dr. Holt.
Extras for women...over age 18 a pap test yearly or normal pap and HPV tests every three years. At 40, women need mammograms each year.
But how much testing is too much? nobody really wants to go through more testing or procedures than they have to. And some medical experts believe that having too many tests done is actually bad for your health. According to Dr. Holt, "There are things that all of us have, little discrepancies within our body. If we did these 'whole body scans', likely we're going to find something. The chances of it being significant is very small. So I do not recommend whole body scans for my patients.
Doctors say an annual exam with your primary care physician is a very good idea, just for a chance to discuss diet, exercise and any questions which have popped up.