Vaccinations aren’t just for children
It's not just children who need vaccines and checkups. They can help to prevent disease in adults or allow for early treatment. Your preventive care needs may vary based on your age, sex and medical history. Here's a guide to some of the most common shots and screening tests recommended for adults.
Blood pressure and cholesterol screening
There are usually no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure or high cholesterol. That's why it's important to:
- Have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked as often as your doctor advises
- Write down your numbers
- Stay on the treatment plan you and your doctor agreed on
Your goals will depend on your risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Ask your doctor what your goals should be.
The flu vaccine
Here are some facts about flu and the flu vaccine:
- Anyone can get the flu.
- The flu is caused by a virus that spreads when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Droplets can land in the mouths or nose of other people who are nearby.
- The flu vaccine does not contain live viruses. This means you cannot get the flu from the shot.
- The flu vaccine can keep you from getting the flu. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you.
- The flu vaccine is updated every year because the viruses that cause the flu change. That's why you need a shot every year.
This vaccine prevents pneumococcal disease. Here are some facts about this disease:
- It can cause pneumonia (infections of your lungs), meningitis (infections of the covering of your brain), or infections in the blood. Pneumococcal bacteria can also cause ear infections.
- Anyone can get it, but some people are more likely to get it:
- Children under 2
- People 65 or older
- People with diabetes
- People with heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or liver disease
Read information about pneumococcal vaccination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Colon cancer screening
Both men and women should be checked for colon cancer or growths that can turn into colon cancer.
- If you are age 50 or older, you should be tested for colon cancer.
- Most colon cancers occur in men and women who are age 50 and older.
- Screening tests can find growths before they turn into cancer. Colon cancer can be prevented if these growths are removed.
- If you get checked and you do have cancer, early treatment is best. Colon cancer is curable if found and treated early.
- There is more than one way to get tested. You and your doctor should choose the test that's best for you.
Breast cancer screening
A mammogram can help find cancer early, when it is too small to be felt. Women age 40 and older should schedule mammogram appointments. You should:
- Have a mammogram every 1 to 2 years.
- Consider scheduling your mammogram 3 to 10 days after your menstrual cycle (period) begins. This is when your breasts are less sensitive.
- Ask your facility if a doctor's order is needed. If so, get the order and take it with you when you go for your mammogram.
Cervical cancer screening
The Pap test can find changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer. Cervical cancer can often be prevented if changes in the cervix are found and treated early. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- If you are ages 21 to 65, get a Pap test every 3 years.
- If you are ages 30 to 65, you may choose instead to get a Pap test and a human papillomavirus (HPV) test every 5 years. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer.
- If you are older than 65 and not at high risk for cervical cancer, you may stop getting Pap tests if your previous results have been normal.
- If you have had a hysterectomy, ask your doctor if you need a Pap test.
Talk to your doctor about the type of screening that is right for you.
Screening for sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually active women age 24 and younger should be tested for chlamydia. Chlamydia is an infection. It often has no symptoms. You may not know you have it. Left untreated, the infection can lead to tubal pregnancies and infertility.
Discuss screening for sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), with your doctor.