Regular health screenings can save lives, even for the young and healthy
“Detecting it early can help to better control illness,” Jose Estanisla Aguirre said. “If they wait, sometimes it’s too late. It will take more to heal or recover.”
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Annual wellness checks can save lives, help people avoid health scares and catch small problems before they become major health issues, as a Worthington, Minnesota, man learned recently.
Jose Estanisla Aguirre in 2018 went to Sanford Worthington Clinic for a routine physical that included a blood test, and learned he was prediabetic. Prediabetes often doesn’t have any symptoms, and while it can lead to diabetes, it doesn’t always.
It was a small change, at first. Aguirre worked nights, and he started feeling thirsty a lot of the time. He’d drink two whole bottles of water a night, and then it started getting worse. He was up to drinking five whole bottles of water a night, and still felt thirsty on his half-hour drive to work every night.
“I say ‘this is not normal, I gotta go see a doctor,’” he recalled.
Aguirre visited the clinic in January 2021, where they did more lab work and found he had indeed become diabetic. He was prescribed two medications, but had a reaction to one, which was then stopped. Aguirre also began some home remedies, like eating vegetable smoothies in the morning, and got his blood sugar back down.
He hasn’t lost a lot of weight, but he’s switched to working days rather than nights, which has helped. He feels better, and his stress levels have gone down too.
“And I’m more active too, at home,” he said.
Now he advises people to make sure to have their annual physicals and screenings.
“Detecting it early can help to better control illness,” Aguirre said. “If they wait, sometimes it’s too late. It will take more to heal or recover.”
His primary physician, Dr. Charles Dike, said it’s pretty common that people don’t follow up with their annual wellness checks and screenings, particularly when they aren’t having any symptoms — which is common with issues like prediabetes and high blood pressure.
“It takes time, costs money to see a provider, so it’s not something that people like to do, especially in situations where they work during the day,” Dike explained. “And they can’t afford to take some time off and see a provider for something they’re not even sure exists.”
Annual physicals are important, but depending on people’s age and gender, there are other screenings too. Men age 45 and older need to be screened for colon cancer, and when they reach age 50, they should also be checked specifically for prostate cancer, Dike said.
Women need cervical cancer screenings every three years, starting at age 21, then every five years after that. Mammograms are annual starting at age 40, but those at high risk may need to start them sooner. And they, too, need colorectal cancer screenings.
But even before that, in their 20s, people need to get those routine physicals so they can be screened for diabetes, lipid disorders and thyroid issues.
“That will help to catch some of these … preventable or treatable diseases early, and that will minimize complications of those diseases,” Dike said. “And they will be counseled on weight, diet, exercise and things that will help you improve your health outcomes.”
Those screenings are for people who are healthy, too.
“Everyone should realize that it’s safer, better, cheaper to make time to see your provider at least once a year. It really is helpful — it is. If you don’t need to be seen every year, the provider will tell you,” Dike said.