Boomer women appear to have increased risk factors for certain health conditions. Regular screenings and testing can help to detect and treat problems in the early stages. If you are a black woman 50 years of age and over, here are 6 screening tests that you should consider.
1. Bone Density Testing
Osteoporosis is more common in women after the menopause. It causes bone loss, brittle bones, and increases the risk for fractures. Bone density testing determines the mineral content of the bones. Osteoporosis can be treated through weight-bearing exercises, calcium rich diets and medication.
2. Vitamin D test
Vitamin D can be obtain naturally from sunshine. As we age our bodies become unable to effectively manufacture this vitamin. Vitamin D helps to protect us from infections, cancer and osteoporosis. The level of vitamin D is checked by a blood test and treatment measures may include changes in diet and vitamin D supplements. This test is recommended for women age 40 years and over with risk factors for osteoporosis.
3. Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
This blood test checks for the presence of invisible blood in the stool. Early signs of colon cancer may be detected through this test. It is also used to check for other diseases of the intestines. This test may be first done at age 50, and then annually if there are any risk factors. Other tests include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. It is important to note that more women are diagnosed with advanced colon cancer than men.
4. Hearing test (audiogram)
By age 60 many people have hearing loss. If you are having problems hearing conversations or understanding what is going on around you, it may be time to get tested. Your ears should be tested by an otolaryngologist (physician) and an audiologist (hearing specialist). It is recommended that you have a hearing test at least every 10 years up to age 50, and every 3 years afterwards.
5. Body Mass Index (BMI)
Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Body mass index measures your weight in relation to your height. You should be weighed at least annually by your doctor and follow any recommendations for weight management.
6. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD.s)
If you are sexually active, beginning a new relationship, or have multiple partners, you may be at increased risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease. You should be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV. You should discuss testing with a health care professional.
Harriette Barker Ph. D, RN