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The Men’s Health Checklist: What tests should you have and when

10 November, 2015
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If you’re like many men, you understand the importance of regularly maintaining your car. You never skip an oil change, keep it looking buffed and polished and fix up anything that doesn’t seem right quickly and efficiently. At home, you regularly clean out the gutters, inspect the exterior, replace batteries in smoke alarms, deep clean the carpets and service the air-conditioning. So while you’re ticking off your maintenance lists, why not pay a visit to your health practitioner?

Taking care of yourself should be one of your highest priorities, and part of taking care of yourself is knowing when and what health checks to have. Evidence-based preventative medicine is cost effective and reduces the risk of illness and disease. Don’t wait for symptoms, get checked now!


Physical exam

18 years +CBHS_3b

A physical exam is a form of benchmarking. It allows your doctor to review all the pertinent aspects of your health history and use the data to create a personalised care plan based on factors such as smoking status, family history, employment environment, physical activity, diet and relationships. It’s also a chance to check immunity, tetanus shots, blood pressure etc., and for the doctor to see you in a healthy state - it’s much easier to diagnose a problem if they’ve seen you when you are well.

A physical exam should take place every two to three years in young people to middle-aged people, and annually for those aged over 50.

Depression screening

18 years +

The anxiety and depression checklist aims to measure whether you may have been affected by depression and anxiety in the past four weeks. The higher the score, the more likely you may be experiencing mental health issues. Depression screening can be performed with your GP or online via sites such as beyondblue.

Annual dental exam

18 years +CBHS_3c

During a dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth and check for cavities and gum disease. The dentist or hygienist will evaluate your overall health and oral hygiene, your risk of developing other oral health problems, and check your face, neck and mouth for abnormalities.

A regular dental exam should take place from an early age.

Prostate cancer screening

High risk only

If you are at above-average risk for prostate cancer, that is if your brother, father, grandfather or uncle have had prostate cancer, discuss being tested with your doctor. There is concern that testing well men for prostate cancer exposes them to tests that can cause harm and side effects such as impotence and incontinence. Before you decide whether or not to be tested, speak to your GP and make sure you have all of the relevant information.

Blood pressure/ cholesterol testing

20 years +CBHS_3d

A cholesterol test is a simple blood test that should be conducted every five years from the age of 20, and every two years after the age of 40. Usually you will be asked to fast for about 10-12 hours before the test. Your doctor will interpret the results of your cholesterol test in light of your individual risk factors for cardiovascular disease. What are acceptable cholesterol levels for you may differ from what’s acceptable for others, so ensure you discuss the results with your doctor.

Skin cancer screening

40 years +

The Australian Cancer Council recommends all adults, particularly those aged 40 and over, should become familiar with their skin by regularly checking it for any changes. Look for changes in shape, colour, size or a new spot, and if you find anything unusual talk to your doctor straight away. Seek assistance from others when checking hard-to-see areas, and make sure you are in adequate light. Alternatively, visit a skin cancer clinic every two years.

Diabetes screening

45 years +

Diabetes is diagnosed by measuring the amount of glucose in the blood at the time of testing. A test can be performed following eight hours of fasting or can be part of a ‘random’ test in which blood samples are taken before or after a meal. If glucose is high, then diabetes is likely. If the results are borderline, your doctor may suggest pre-diabetes and extra monitoring might be required. Diabetes screening should be done every three years from 45 years and over.

Colon cancer screening

CBHS_3e

50 years +

Australia has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world, with 1 in 23 developing the disease during their lifetime. While a screening test won’t determine colon cancer, it can detect tiny traces of blood which may indicate whether or not further testing is required. Regular screening over the age of 50 is important, as colon cancer can develop without any early warning symptoms.

Hepatitis C

Born between 1945 and 1965

Many people living with Hepatitis C don’t know they have it, and it is recommended that those born between 1945 and 1965 get a one-time test. Baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C, which can cause severe liver damage.

Eye exam

60 years +

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to determine how healthy your eyes are. During the exam, each eye is closely inspected for signs of common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. Annual comprehensive dilated eye exams are recommended for those over 60 years, however, those with a high risk of glaucoma (such as African Americans) should start annual examinations from aged 40. 

Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening

Between 65 - 75 years

If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, you should be screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), a one-time test that will determine whether or not you have any kind of bulge in your abdominal aorta, your largest artery. An AAA could burst, causing dangerous bleeding or even death.

Neurological examCBHS_3f

70 years +

During a neurological exam, your physician will closely evaluate your brain for any signs of Alzheimer’s, small or large stroke, Parkinson’s disease, brain tumours, fluid accumulation on the brain, and other illnesses that may impair memory or thinking. Your physician will test things like reflexes, coordination, muscle strength, eye movement, speech and sensation.

Talk to your physician about doing a bone density check as well, to check for osteopenia and osteoporosis.

A neurological exam should be performed every two years for those aged over 70 years.

CBHS members with extras or package cover are eligible for generous benefits on health checks and health management services. These are part of CBHS’s promise to deliver great value while supporting members in achieving wellbeing and fitness. Visit cbhs.com.au for further details 

All information in this article is intended for general information purposes only. Information should not be considered medical advice and is in no way intended to replace a consultation with a qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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