As we age, our body’s health needs evolve. We may experience aches that were never there before and develop concerns over health issues that may not have crossed our minds when we were younger. This doesn’t have to mean weekly checkups or constant stress over health risks. It just means being proactive about things that we’re more vulnerable to during middle age.
Being informed can help prepare you and your doctor for possible treatments and lifestyle changes you’ll need to maintain optimal health. Let’s run through a full medical checkup list of everything you should be screening and testing for in your 40s and 50s.
Essential Exams In Your 40s in 50s
Getting a standard physical exam is an important part of maintaining optimal health in your 40s and 50s. Both men and women of this age should be doing this every 1-2 years.
There are many additional exams that should be observed once you hit middle age, some of which you may be unfamiliar with. Here is a rundown of which routine exams you’ll need and why they are important to your health.
Most peoples’ vision gradually worsens as they get older. By age 40, farsightedness, or difficulty seeing up close, becomes increasingly more common. Getting an eye exam every 2-4 years is crucial for both men and women in their 40s and 50s.
Doing these checkups will help keep your glasses prescription up to date, indicate whether you may have a more serious vision issue like glaucoma, or if you are at risk of vision loss.
While pelvic exams are commonly linked to reproductive health and pregnancy, women past child bearing years should also get this checked regularly. Pelvic exams can test for gynecologic issues such as cervical and ovarian cancer, both of which become more prevalent once women hit their 40s and 50s.
During this procedure, your gynecologist will perform a pap smear and manual exam to determine whether you have any STDs, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or early signs of cancer. Women in their 40s and 50s should be getting pelvic exams on an annual basis and pap smears every 3 years per your gynecologist’s instruction.
Getting periodic rectal exams is a crucial part of maintaining middle-aged health. During this procedure, a doctor will examine the inside of your colon to check for abnormalities. Common medical issues that may come up are inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), hemorrhoids, rectal or colon cancer, and even neurological disorders.
This exam is not the same as a colonoscopy as it does not require any prior preparation such as colon cleansing. However, the two may be performed in succession if the doctor detects signs of colon cancer while performing your rectal exam.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor checks for polyps and other signs of colon cancer. This procedure is also a helpful way of detecting causes for rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and other intestinal problems.
Annual rectal exams are a recommended health screening by age 50-59 for both men and women. Colonoscopies are encouraged every 10 years from age 45 onward.
In accordance with the CDC recommended health screenings by age and gender, prostate exams are unnecessary for females. However, they are an extremely important procedure for men in their mid-40s and onward. Prostate cancer is the second most deadly cancer for men. In fact, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. So the best thing you can do to check for signs of prostate cancer is to get annual exams starting at age 45.
Vital Vaccinations Needed in Your 40s in 50s
Your 40s and 50s is the time to stock up on immunizations that’ll boost daily health and promote longevity. These recommended vaccinations are pretty infrequent and low maintenance but are important to keep up with.
- Meningitis Vaccine: If not received prior, you will need to get 1-2 doses of MenACWY and 2-3 doses of MenB. Booster shots may be necessary depending on the type of vaccine received. If your risk for Meningitis still persists, you will need to be revaccinated every 5 years.
- Booster Td or Tdap Vaccine: You will need to get a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis shot every 10 years to follow up on the vaccines you received at a younger age. If you experience any type of puncture wound, you should get an additional booster shot regardless of when your last one was.
- Zoster Recombinant Vaccination: This is an important vaccination once you hit the age of 50. It helps prevent shingles and can be received regardless of whether you’ve had chickenpox before. It’s recommended that you get two doses of this vaccine, 2-6 months apart.
- Flu Vaccine: This is an important vaccine at all ages! It is ideal to get your flu vaccine once every flu season between the months of September and October.
Other Tests and Screenings to Consider
The above recommended exams and vaccinations are an extremely helpful way to promote middle-aged health. And there are still additional steps you can take to support a more well-rounded health strategy. Getting these screenings and recommended lab tests by age can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you’re able to catch early signs of diseases or detect major health risks.
Bone Density Test
Bone density tests are recommended for people who:
- Are at risk of osteoporosis
- Have experienced frequent fractures or loss of height
- Have a chronic disease
- Are a woman approaching or currently experiencing menopause
Regardless, this test should be observed every 2 years by men and women between the ages of 40-59.
Getting regular mammograms is a pivotal preventative step you can take towards warding off breast cancer. Women should receive their first one at 40 and then continue every 1-2 years. Once they reach the age of 50, women should start observing mammograms annually. They should also do regular exams on their own breasts, feeling them for abnormalities or changes.
Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, especially for people who’ve had extensive sun exposure in their life. Starting at the age of 50, men and women should be getting skin cancer screenings every 1-2 years. Getting these done can detect skin cancer cells and melanoma before they become deadly.
Pursuing Impeccable Health in Your 40s and 50s
Taking care of your health is always imperative, but in your 40s and 50s, checking up on the recommended lab tests by age should become a higher priority. This will ensure you have a comprehensive check on your overall health and don’t overlook any issues that could become worse. Though it may seem like a lot of trips to the doctor, you’ll be grateful to know that you’re doing everything you can to live a long and harmonious life.