Tests and Screenings You Shouldn’t Skip During the Pandemic
Routine tests (cholesterol and blood pressure) and
screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and Pap are effective means of
spotting conditions before they get worse.
The pandemic has raised concerns about routine preventive care. Is it OK to skip these screenings while in the middle of a pandemic?
In short, no. It is very important to stick to your schedule for these tests - which help give health care providers early notice if your health is changing.
At Reid Health, our safe pathways to care include screening and testing for COVID-19, wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, changing processes to minimize contact and taking additional cleaning measures. Our providers are taking extra precautions to keep patients safe and help prevent the spread of the virus. We also test patients for COVID-19 in advance of procedures and surgeries.
Maintain your health during the pandemic
Talk to your provider about what screenings are best for you and follow their recommendations, especially if you're living with a condition that puts you more at risk for certain diseases.
In general, here are some of the tests and checkups that you shouldn't delay since they are important to your overall health:
Pediatric checkups and well child visits: Keeping your children healthy and up-to-date on their vaccines is essential. Work with your pediatrician or care center to make sure your kids don't miss these important in-person visits.
Pap tests — with or without human papillomavirus (HPV) screening: These tests can detect certain cancers of the cervix, as well as viral conditions that put women at higher risk for cervical cancer. If your recent Pap tests were normal, you should have a Pap test every three to five years. However, if you have a history of abnormal Pap tests, you may need to have them more frequently.
Mammograms: A yearly mammogram (or more or less frequent, as your provider recommends) is an essential step in early detection of breast cancer.
DEXA osteoporosis screening (bone mineral density test): As women get older, thinning bones can increase the risk of fractures. This test assesses your risk and helps your provider determine if you need calcium supplements or other treatment for bone mineral loss.
Prostate cancer screening: Men should follow their doctor's instructions on getting tested for prostate cancer regularly.
For Women and Men
Colonoscopy: Women and men should get colonoscopies starting at age 45, according to recently updated recommendations. Colonoscopies can spot colorectal cancer, which when treated early, can be managed effectively.
Tests for heart and vascular health: Reid Health offers heart and vascular scans to help spot warnings in the earliest stages allowing quick action and treatments that can help prolong life. For heart health, adults should also keep track of their blood pressure and body mass index (BMI).
You should follow your provider's guidance on getting regular blood tests for factors relevant to heart disease risk, such as:
- Blood sugar
- Coronary artery calcium
- C-reactive protein
- Other factors as your provider suggests
Are you at risk for a heart attack?
With so much attention focused on COVID-19, it's easy to forget about other health issues such as cancer or heart disease, but these threats are still around. The good news is that with screening, in many cases, you can prevent them or catch problems early so that treatment is more effective.
Preventive measures such as mammograms, Pap tests, colonoscopies and other tests and screenings are essential to good health.
If you are experiencing any symptoms or signs of illness, don't delay care.
Contact your health care provider to get the help you need.