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Home > Health Library > Health Screening: Finding Health Problems Early
Often, the earlier a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is that it can be cured or successfully managed. When you treat a disease early, you may be able to prevent or delay problems from the disease. Treating the disease early may also make the disease easier to live with.
Your doctor may suggest:
You and your doctor can use recommendations made by expert panels of health professionals to help you decide what screening tests you need. These panels develop screening recommendations based on:
Sometimes different expert panels make different recommendations. In these situations, talk with your doctor to decide which guidelines best meet your health needs.
See which screening tests you may need:
When and how often you get screening tests may depend on your age, your gender, your health status, your risk factors, and the cost of testing. Your doctor may suggest screening tests based on expert guidelines. In some cases, testing is done as part of a routine checkup.
When you are thinking about getting a screening test, talk with your doctor. Find out about the disease, what the test is like, how the test may help you or hurt you, and how much the test costs. You may also want to ask what further testing and follow-up will be needed if a screening test result shows a possible problem.
Ask your doctor about the limits of the test and treatment. For example:
Also think about what you would do if a test shows that you have the disease. For example, if you are going to be tested for osteoporosis, are you willing to take medicine or make lifestyle changes if the test shows that you have it?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
All states require newborn screening, although the tests required vary from state to state. These tests can help find serious problems that could affect your baby's long-term health. They may include:
It's important for your baby to have regularly scheduled checkups, often called well-baby visits, starting shortly after birth. During these visits, the doctor examines your baby for possible problems and asks you questions about your baby's growth and development.
At each well-baby visit, the doctor or nurse will check your baby's:
It's also recommended that your baby have developmental delay screening and a blood test for iron-deficiency anemia.
If the doctor is concerned that your child has been exposed to certain substances or diseases, tests may include:
For more information on important markers (milestones) of infant growth and development, see:
It's important for your child to continue to have regularly scheduled checkups, often called well-child visits. During these visits, your child's doctor will check your child's growth and development and examine your child for possible problems.
Checks at well-child visits include:
Regular dental checkups are recommended for all children once or twice a year.
Until your child is age 24 months, the doctor will measure the circumference of your child's head.
Until your child is age 5, the doctor will check for developmental problems, including two checks for autism. When your child is ages 10 through to 12, the doctor will check for scoliosis.
Other tests may include:
For more information on the milestones of early childhood growth and development, see:
It's important for your teen to continue to have regularly scheduled checkups. At each well-child visit, the doctor will check your teen's growth and development and examine him or her for possible problems.
Checks at well-child visits may include:
Dental checkups are recommended for all teens once or twice a year.
For more information on the milestones of teen growth and development, see:
Screening in adults is intended to identify diseases that may develop as you age. To help stay as healthy as possible, get routine checkups and have screenings that you and your doctor decide on.
How often you have the following tests depends on your age, health, and things that make a specific disease more likely.
Tests that may be done include:
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you may be screened for genetic conditions, gestational diabetes, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions. For more information, see the topic Pregnancy.
Some tests are only done at certain ages.
It can be hard to decide whether you want to be screened for certain diseases or which type of test is best used. Combine medical information with your personal values to make a wise health decision.
How often you have the following tests depends on your age, health, and things that make getting a specific disease more likely.
It can be hard to decide whether you want to be screened for certain diseases or which type of test is best used.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2020). Screening for hepatitis C virus infection in adolescents and adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA, 322(4): 349–354. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.1123. Accessed March 28, 2020.
Other Works Consulted
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2012). Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, 2012: Recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (AHRQ Publication No. 12-05154). Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/clinicians-providers/guidelines-recommendations/guide.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2008). Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 3rd ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2013). Ethical and policy issues in genetic testing and screening of children. Pediatrics, 131(3): 620–622.
Armstrong K, Martin GJ (2015). Screening and prevention of disease. In DL Kasper et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th ed., vol. 1, pp. 26–31. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Harrington S (2010). Screening. In CL Edelman, CL Mandle, eds., Health Promotion Throughout the Life Span, 7th ed., pp. 221–241. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.
Tarini BA (2007). The current revolution in newborn screening. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 161(8): 767–772.
Current as of:
February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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