The Importance of Check-Ups
21 June 2016
Ignoring Your Digestive Health
Where some people eat to live, most live to eat. With this juxtaposition, your colon health plays a truly important role in day to day activities. It is quite common for people to ignore seemingly harmless symptoms of heartburn and stomach aches, but it is crucial to take such matters into the hands of medical professionals to assess risk and treatment options.
Whether or not you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, it is important to regularly schedule checkups with your doctor. During these visits, you will be given opportunities to screen for medical issues, determine your risk of future medical problems, plan for a healthy lifestyle, and help you get to know your provider in case of an illness.
Colorectal Cancer Screenings / Colonoscopies
If you are under age 50, you should be screened if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps. Screening may also be considered if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease.
If you are between ages 50 to 75, you should be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several screening tests available. Some common screening tests include:
- A stool occult blood test done every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a stool occult blood test every 3 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
You may need a colonoscopy more often if you have risk factors for colon cancer, such as:
- Ulcerative colitis / Crohn's disease
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- A history of colorectal adenomas
One in five men has felt the burning discomfort of heartburn in the past month, and for many men it is a chronic malady requiring daily medication. For a variety of reasons, those with chronic heartburn end up having one or more endoscopies, in which a doctor uses a flexible lighted instrument to check for trouble down below in the esophagus.
With this procedure, you can be assured of the accuracy of the diagnosis. An endoscopy—upper or lower—is more accurate than an X-ray for detecting inflammation, ulcers, or small tumors of the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, or lower GI tract. Endoscopy is also excellent for finding the causes of gastrointestinal bleeding. If you have had major surgery, it can be used to evaluate the inside of your esophagus or stomach to search for signs of bleeding.