We all know the benefits of having good health and a healthy body. Knowing the state of your health is important for optimum performance at any age. Preventive healthcare entails forming a habit of practices that help prevent disease or detect them early, so they can easily be treated. These include: living a healthy lifestyle, regular physical checkups, as well as the use of some specific disease prevention measures like immunization. At every life stage, there are measures we can take to ensure optimum health and wellness.
Baby-Childhood (0-10 years)
Babies are especially vulnerable to problems of nutrition, growth and infections. At this age, it's important to:
- Keep a growth chart. Is the child following normal acceptable growth patterns?
- Ensure the child is getting all the nutrients they need from wholesome foods.
- Ensure all routine immunization against common child hood diseases are done
- Regular developmental milestone checking eg: is the child sitting, crawling walking, etc. when they should? Has the child reached appropriate development for his/her age?
Pre- teens/Teens (11-18 years)
Teens are trying to prove their "independence" and "maturity". They want to start experimenting with 'Adult activities" like sex, alcohol, tobacco and drugs. We cannot overemphasize the importance of counselling at this stage. Health/ wellness at this age would include:
- Sex education and counselling
- Immunization against Human papilloma virus; the main cause of cervical cancer in females. This should be done before they are sexually active.
- Weight, height and body mass index (BMI) checks to identify obesity early.
- Booster doses of childhood immunizations
- Blood pressure check
- Blood sugar check
- Dental checkups
Procreation years (18-45 years)
At this stage, checks of the reproductive organs, as well as checks for lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol are important.
- Cholesterol levels
- Urine analysis
- Kidney function tests
- Cardiac checks ( from age 30)
- Women: physical exam for breast lumps/breast scam/ mammogram if >40 years
- Women: pelvic scan
- Women: pap smear should be conducted every three years starting at the age of 21 or as soon as sexually active
- Men: testicular exam
Middle Aged (45-65 years)
Lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol show up at this age, and it is important to watch out for them. There is also evidence of gradual deterioration of the eyesight, as well as joint and muscular issues. We must also screen for cancer at this stage.
- Colonoscopy,(especially if there is a family history of colon cancer)
- Stool for occult blood (early detection of colon cancer)
- Men: Psa ( Prostatic specific antigen) to check for prostate cancer
- Men Prostate Scan
Elderly (65 and above)
These group of people need all the screening of the middle aged group as well as
- Psychological and wellness counselling
- Height and weight (shrinking height could be a sign of osteoporosis/loss of bone density)
- Hearing test
At all ages,It is important to stress the benefits of a healthy balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low in salt, saturated fat and processed foods. Exercise at all ages is recommended according to the physical abilities of the individual. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and helps to maintain a healthy weight