Screening tests are carried out across various age groups to detect health issues at an early stage so that measures to combat the same can be instituted. As we age our vulnerability to certain disorders increase, so screening tests and health checks are chosen for specific age groups. While the majority turns out to be negative, it is the high risk group spotted that benefits big time.

Early diagnostic tests and specialist intervention can alter the disease course and lessen the effect of health hazards. Health checks involve assessing patient’s history, performing relevant tests and advising appropriate lifestyle modification and medication on the basis of the test reports.

Health Checks For The Preconception Period And Pregnancy

The 3 months leading on to pregnancy is a crucial period from the health-check standpoint. Immunity to measles and chicken pox has to be checked as these can wreak havoc to the developing foetus. Blood grouping and hemoglobin are other parameters to be checked. In Rhesus negative mothers, certain precautionary measures are to be taken. Iron and folic acid supplements are advocated during this period. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and thyroid disorders need to be kept in control. Screening for infectious diseases, inherited blood disorders and certain chromosomal anomalies is optional.

Health Checks For Newborn And Children

Regular checks are advocated in the neonatal period and early childhood to ascertain adequate development. Childhood immunizations that protect the baby from lethal disorders are often combined with routine checks to ensure compliance. The heel prick test done in the newborn screens for rare but potentially serious disorders. Hearing test is yet another test that is done in the early months as permanent hearing loss has the potential to hamper language development. Physical examination to check for cataracts, congenital heart disorders and hip anomalies are undertaken during this period. The vaccination schedule recommended by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics is as follows:

 

 Birth

BCG, OPV 0, HepB 1

6 weeks

DTwP 1, IPV 1, HepB 2, HiB 1, Rotavirus 1, PCV 1

10 weeks

DTwP2, IPV 2, HiB 2, Rotavirus 2, PCV 2

14 weeks

DTwP3, IPV 3, HiB 3, Rotavirus 3, PCV 3

6 months

OPV 1, HepB 3

9 months

OPV 2, MMR 1

12 months

HepA 1, Typhoid conjugate vaccine

15 months

MMR 2, Varicella 1, PCV Booster

18 months

DTwP Booster 1, IPV Booster 1, HiB Booster 1, HepA 2

2 years

Typhoid conjugate vaccine booster

4-6 years

DTwP Booster 2, OPV 3, Varicella 2, MMR 3

10-12 years

Human papilloma virus, Tdap / Td

BCG- Bacillus Calmette–Guérin, OPV - Oral polio vaccine, HepB - Hepatitis B, DTwP – Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis vaccine, IPV – Inactivated polio vaccine, HiB – Heamophilusinfluenzae type B, PCV – Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, MMR – Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine, HepA – Hepatitis A vaccine, Tdap – Tetanus, Diphheria and Pertussis vaccine, Td – Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccine

Health Checks For Twenty To Thirty Year Old

Despite the zest in this age group, it is advisable that a baseline check of blood glucose, serum cholesterol and blood pressure is done. Monitoring BMI and waist circumference helps to keep track if your weight is ideal for your height. This is also an appropriate age to get PAP smears, sexually transmitted infection checks and a depression screening. Young women are offered Gardasil vaccines to protect them against certain types of cervical cancer. Tetanus vaccine is an option for those who haven’t received the late childhood booster doses. Those at risk for occupational exposure to Hepatitis B should take up a three dose injection series.

Health Checks For 40 Years Old

Apart from tests enlisted above, this is the age to be vigilant about breast screening and prostrate checks. Your gynaecologist or urologist will be able to advice about specific screening if needed. Men who are impacted by frequent urination and weak urinary stream can get an ultrasound to check the status of the prostrate. Those at higher risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders should be checked for all the modifiable risk factors at this point of time. It is also an ideal time to carry out an eye and dental examination. If undertaking travel to certain endemic countries, taking a specifically tailored vaccination schedule is appropriate.

Health Checks For 50's And Beyond

This is the age in which health checks become even more important. Apart from the screening done in the previous age groups, women are offered regular mammograms and PAP smears to detect suspicious lesions beforehand. Depending on predisposing risk factors, a DEXA scan may be advised to check the bone mineral density. In case of osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D supplements are instituted. Faecal occult blood test (FOBT) is carried out in this age group to detect colorectal cancer at an early stage. Audiometry is also advisable as hearing problems can impact the quality of live adversely. This is also an ideal age to get yourself vaccinated against pneumonia and influenza.

Dr. Daphney Gracia Antony,  Consultant - Preventive Health Checks, Fortis Malar Hospital