How to Protect Your Health in Your 40s? Start With These Five Health Checks
by Lou-Ann Jordan Sep 4, 2023
Someone once said the forties are the new twenties, and it was a bolstering statement for many 40-year-olds. It was encouraging because something about our 40s awakens our sense of mortality. We become very aware of our body, and with that awareness, we begin to spot its deterioration.
Certainly, there’s a change at this age. Cartilage lessens, and joints start to creak and croak. Our vision blurs, and suddenly we can no longer read small fonts. It’s downright disconcerting how quickly it happens. Additionally, we become more vocal, and by this, we mean we now add sound effects to our movements. Quite uncontrollably, it seems, we emit soft groans when we sit or rise.
It’s all a part of the process—the ageing process. It shouldn’t be feared. We should embrace and enjoy this period of our lives. With careful planning, we can face the changes head-on. That said, a crucial part of our planning should be having regular health checks.
For many of us in the Caribbean, our approach to health is like the slogan, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However true that may be of appliances and other such inconsequential things, it is not true of our health. Our bodies send us signals, some more perceptibly than others, but the warnings are there.
It’s prudent to begin checking now as early detection is critical for most diseases and lifestyle illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and others. You’ve got to protect your health, and these checks are a good starting point.
Here are Five Critical Health Checks to Get Done in your 40s.
Eyes. Chances are we in our 40s have experienced this at some time or another. One day we’re reading well, and the next, we’re unable to read the fine print on labels—our 20/20 vision is no more or has worsened (you might have already been using glasses). The suddenness of it can be unnerving, but it’s quite normal. Book a visit with your optician and have an eye test done. You may need to adjust your prescription lenses or join the bespectacled club.
Teeth. It’s easy to take our dental health for granted. The absence of a toothache or discomfort can cause us to neglect our choppers. Still, cavities may exist without warning signs, and decay occurs from a lack of care. For some people, there are other visible changes at this age. They may begin to notice discolouration or that their gumline is receding, leaving the root of their teeth exposed. Well, now is also an excellent time to replace missing teeth with an implant or bridge, as this will prevent shifts in neighbouring teeth. A visit to your dentist can help you determine what is needed and proceed with treatment.
Prostate. Can we get a consensus? We’re all tired of hearing men don’t like visiting the doctor. It’s time to debunk that old stereotype, especially for men in their 40s. While it is advised for men of average risk to have the exam done at 50, they should begin consulting with their physician about it in their 40s. You can enquire about the benefits and limitations of prostate screening. Ask your doctor about the basics of the digital rectal exam, PSA test, and colonoscopy. If you have a family history of cancer, at 45, you should begin screening every year.
Breasts. The United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF) advises women between 50 and 70 to have a mammogram every two years. However, organisations like the Mayo Clinic caution women at average risk to begin at 40 and to have the exam done every other year. They believe that doing so helps with early detection. Therefore, if you’re 40, it’s time to chat with your physician about when to have a mammogram.
Cervix. The World Health Organization reports that cervical cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer among women worldwide. Untreated, cervical cancer is known to metastasise and can spread to your lungs, liver, bladder, and other areas of the body. The American Cancer Society reported that screenings and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations have significantly contributed to a decrease in diagnoses. The sexually transmitted disease HPV substantially contributes to cervical cancer. However, the good news is that screening helps detect cervical changes, allowing early treatment. Regardless of age, this screening should be done once you’re sexually active. However, if you are in your 40s and have never had a pap smear done, you should. Schedule a visit with your doctor to book or discuss screening and STD testing.
The 40s are wonderful! One significant factor is that most of us experience greater self-assurance. We are more confident about who we are, where we’re going, and what we’re doing. However, this sense of self-awareness is only truly beneficial if we take better care of our whole selves—mind, spirit, and body. In our 40s, our bodies need different care, and we should make that a priority.
Do you need to find a dentist, optician, or medical doctor? Then search your FindYello business listing to find the one nearest you.