Hey Generation X - your health is important! When was the last time that you went to your primary care physician for a check-up? Has it been less than a year? More than two years? Generation X is sandwiched between the baby boomers and millennials and are often left to care for not only themselves, but also their young children and aging parents. This may make it harder to focus on their own health. However, skipping preventive screenings or overlooking common health related issues may lead to further complications such as chest pain, loss of vision, or appetite. Check out these 6 health symptoms you should never overlook:

Unexplained weight loss: Losing weight might not seem like an urgent symptom, but unexplainably losing weight may be caused by a serious underlying health issues such as depression, cancer, or liver disease. The Mayo Clinic suggests you speak with your health care provider if you have lost more than 5% of your overall body weight within a 6-12 week period.

Persistent or high fever: While a low grade fever isn’t something to be alarmed about, the raised temperature is an indication of some kind of infection or illness. You should visit your health care provider if you have a temperature of over 103F, or if you have had a fever that has lasted for more than three days.

Shortness of breath: While it may be harder to catch your breath after vigorous exercise or in extreme temperatures, experiencing shortness of breath during other times may be an indication of an underlying health issue. If you experience shortness of breath that comes on suddenly or without reason you should seek medical care immediately.

Changes in bowels: Changes in bowels may be a result of issues such as bacterial infections, cancer, or salmonella infection. If you notice a change in your normal bowl habits, or if your bowels are black, bloody, or if you have persistent diarrhea or constipation, you should contact your health care provider.

Changes in appetite: If you notice a change in your appetite, or if you feel full after eating less than usual, you should contact your physician. This symptom may also present itself along with nausea, vomiting, bloating, or weight loss and may be a result of health issues such as peptic ulcers, pancreatic cancer, or gastro-related illnesses.

Regular physical exams are important even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Below are a few important preventive screening tests that are recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for all adults. More frequent screening may be necessary, as determined by your physician:

  • Blood pressure screening every 2 years. The AAFP recommends yearly screening for persons with systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 90 mm Hg.
  • Lipid panel (cholesterol and triglyceride) screening every 5 years.
  • Diabetes screening with fasting blood sugar every 3 years.

The following preventive screenings are also recommended by the AAFP, but at varying intervals and ages dependent on the patient’s family and health history. This list is not all-inclusive; only you and your physician can determine the screening schedule most appropriate for you:

  • Mammogram exam (females only): Recommendations state women 50-74 years get a mammogram every two years. For women under 50, the AAFP recommends individualized screening schedules.
  • Pap smear testing (females only): The AAFP recommends women 21-65 years get a Pap smear test every three years. Depending on your risk factors and family history, your physician may recommend more frequent testing.
  • STD screenings, including HIV: STD screening is recommended for sexually active adults, as recommended by your physician.
  • Colorectal cancer screening: Recommendations state all adults are screened for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. Depending on your risk factors and family history, your physician may recommend more frequent testing and/or initial testing before age 50.
  • Bone density screening: AAFP recommends women over 65 receive bone density screening once every 2 years. If you have experienced a fracture, are receiving treatment for osteoporosis, or have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis, your physician may recommend more frequent screening or screening before age 65.
  • Mental health screening is an important part of your preventive screening schedule. Discuss with your physician your mental health history to determine an appropriate mental health screening plan.

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