Did you just turn 40? Or maybe you are well into your 40s and have noticed some slight changes in your health and feel you need some answers. As a woman, it’s important to follow routine health checkups and seek out testing and screenings for illnesses and diseases. At the end of the day, the only one who can truly take charge of your health is yourself. Here are a few suggestions and ways that you can help get your lifestyle on track and take control of your healthcare.
Dealing With Medication Side Effects
Have you suddenly found yourself taking a lot of pills after the age of 40? Treating depression and other chronic illnesses can mean multiple medications and also varying side effects. It’s important to be able to easily get a hold of your doctor’s office or pharmacy to openly discuss medication interactions and what risks are involved. Don’t be hesitant to call your pharmacy if you’re taking a new medication and something just doesn’t feel right. He will be able to tell you if it’s an actual drug interaction and communicate with your doctor about changing dosage or switching to a new type of medication. Choosing a good pill identifier website that helps you easily identify missing or spilled pills is a great safety feature to utilize as well.
Annual Well Visits
You may have been getting an annual physical before age 40 each year to stay on top of your health. While they are very important, your doctor may want to see you bi-annually after age 40, especially if you already have a pre-existing condition. Some conditions may warrant a trip to the doctor either every three to six months, such as:
- *High blood pressure or pre-hypertension
- *Diabetes or pre-diabetes
- *High cholesterol
- *A history of cancer
Until you get symptoms under control, more frequent visits are often recommended. Having a good relationship with your doctor will make it easier to communicate about future health issues and ease the stress of undergoing tests and procedures.
Important Specialized Testing
Getting your blood screened as a woman over 40 is one of the first ways to open a window to your health. After a comprehensive metabolic blood panel and complete blood count allow your doctor to screen for common health conditions. Based on past pathology results, mention of certain symptoms and your age, further testing may be recommended such as:
- *Pap smear and pelvic exam
- *Stress test
- *Bone mineral density test
- *Cholesterol screening
- *Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy
Certain types of cancers are more common in women over 40, which is why screening is very important and why you should follow up with your doctor if you notice and physical changes or strange symptoms. If more testing is recommended, your doctor will instruct you on prepping for the exam and what to expect during and afterward with a test or procedure. Having pre-screenings for heart disease and cancer can help prevent certain conditions or inform you of potential problems that could occur years down the road.
Communicating With Your Doctor
Have you just been diagnosed with cancer or a possible life-altering disease? Should stop or change your birth control? You may have a plethora of questions and concerns for your doctor. Make a list right away of anything that pops into your head. Contact your doctor for an appointment to discuss what’s on your mind. Ask your doctor’s office if they have any type of patient education program or a patient portal in which you can access your medical records, test results and communicate online with your doctor. If you don’t feel comfortable with how your doctor responds or handles your care, find another medical facility that is more accommodating.
Communication with your health care providers is vital in getting the most out of your total health care. Following through with recommended testing and screenings can reduce your risk of developing a serious health issue in the future.