Happy New Year!  Each new year presents us with a fresh start and another chance to get ourselves together mentally, spiritually, and physically.  Make this year the year that you take control of your health and get on track to be the best you possible. Below I have compiled a list of lab tests, exams, and immunizations or vaccines that are vital to your well being.

Be sure to ask your primary care provider (PCP), whether it’s a physician or nurse practitioner :), for:

  • Head to toe physical exam, including height and weight ( these measurements are used to calculate your BMI, or body mass index, which ideally should fall between 18.5-24.9)
  • HIV test (If you are sexually active, this should be done every 3-6 months, but at least once a year)  Know your status!!!
  • Diabetes test ( This test is esp. important if you have a positive family history)
  • Depression screening (Don’t be afraid to speak with someone if you’re feeling sad or find it hard to deal with life at times.  There’s hope/help for times like that.
  • Eye exam (You only get one set of eyes; take care of them)
  • Hearing screening (hopefully blasting your favorite songs in the car or through your headphones hasn’t affected your hearing)
  • Skin and mole exam (This can be done by your PCP or a dermatologist.  Don’t forget to wear sunscreen lotion, even if you’re Black.  Melanoma doesn’t discriminate.)
  • Dental and oral cancer exam (Protect and perfect your beautiful smile)
  • Thyroid test (Your thyroid is the master gland of your body.  Make sure it’s in tip top shape.)
  • Blood pressure screening and cholesterol test (Heart disease is the number one cause of preventable death. Ideal blood pressure should be below 120/80 and your total cholesterol should be below 200.)
  • Pap smear (checks for abnormal cervical cell changes indicative of cervical cancer and HPV, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer.)
  • Pelvic exam (this should include STD check, esp. for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea which are common in women 25 years and younger)
  • Clinical breast exam (you should be doing self breast exams at home monthly, also.)
  • Flu shot (You should get this vaccine every year.  Many people still die from the flu every year!)
  • TDAP shot (pertussis or whooping cough is coming back with a vengeance and tetanus or lock jaw is nothing to scoff at)
  • Gardasil vaccine (Series of 3 injections of 6 months to protect you from 4 major strands of HPV.  Females ages 9-26 are encouraged to get this vaccine regardless of sexual activity.)
  • Meningococcal vaccine (Important if you’ll be living in close quarters with other people, such as in a dorm or sorority house.)

I hope this list helps you put together a game plan with your healthcare provider so that you can achieve an optimal level of health this year and beyond.  Your PCP should be able to customize your healthcare plan to fit your individual needs.  Stay well!

Ladies, always remember to keep  a healthy demeanor, both inside and out!