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Updated 22 June 2017

Important tests you should take at every life stage

Prevention is better than cure - Getting sick is a part of life, and most of us will spend some time in our lives eating chicken soup and feeling sorry for ourselves. If we’re reasonably healthy we’ll bounce back after a short while and carry on as before.

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That’s all to be expected, but there are measures we can take at all life stages to help prevent everything from a frustrating head-cold to far more serious afflictions such as cancer and diabetes later in life. Taking these measures has the principal benefit – naturally – of helping us avoid sickness, but also has the added benefit of reducing your healthcare costs and your time away from work and family, and reduces the burden on your loved ones.

One of the most effective ways to put a person on a life-long path to health and wellness is to start young - indeed when the baby is still in utero,  ensuring that the mother looks after her own nutrition and overall health. Study after study has  also shown the benefits of focussing on the basics of nutrition and movement development activities for children.

However, there is more you can do, such as dental checks from as soon as their first milk teeth start to appear, ensuring children get their annual flu jabs and, in girls, an HPV vaccination from around the age of nine will reduce the chance of them getting cervical cancers later in life by about 70%.

Adults can ensure they remain healthy by following a basic regime of exercise, not smoking, having at least 7 -8 hours of sleep and exercising restraint when it comes to junk food and alcohol intake.

However beyond this, adults can – with their doctors – adhere to a screening schedule throughout their lives, which include BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol measurements while not forgetting diabetes screening as well.

Women ought to be screened for breast cancer twice a year (or annually if at high risk of developing breast cancer) starting at the age of 50 (or younger if at high risk), and for cervical cancer from the age of 25 in consultation with a doctor. Women can also have bone density checked from about the age of 65, or before if risk factors indicate it.

Men, in consultation with their doctors, ought to have their prostates checked from the age of 40 .

All adults ought to consider mental health screening, an annual dental check and HIV test, as well as ensure they get the annual flu jab – especially people over 65 and other high risk individuals (such as those with chronic lung and heart disease, pregnant women and diabetic patients).

Colorectal cancer screening is also recommended for all adults from the age of 50 while those over the age of 65 and other high risk individuals can also benefit from a pneumococcal vaccine and a zoster vaccine from the age of 60. 

 
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