Recommendations for Healthy Adults

Woman Doctor Masterfile Image

Regular checkups are an important part of maintaining good health—in children and adolescents and adults. In healthy adults, the goals of routine health care are to:

  • Maintain the provider-patient relationship
  • Evaluate disease risk
  • Prevent illness
  • Screen for medical problems
  • Address concerns and answer questions
  • Provide information about making healthy lifestyle choices
  • Update immunizations

Recommendations for routine health care—such as how often a healthy adult should see his or her primary care provider, dentist, eye doctor or other specialist for regular exams, screening procedures and medical tests, depend on a number of different factors. These factors include:

  • Age of the patient
  • Overall health of the patient
  • Patient's family and personal medical history
  • Lifestyle considerations like the patient's smoking habits, diet, activity level, stress level
  • Other factors that affect the patient's physical or mental health, as determined by his or her health care provider
  • Benefits vs. risks and costs vs. benefits of the exam, test or procedure

The information presented here is meant to be used as a general guideline for routine care in healthy adults without increased risk of disease. The recommendations are current as of May 2012. Be sure to follow your health care providers' recommendations, which may be different.

Recommendations for Healthy Adults

General recommendations for routine checkups in healthy adults include:

  • Physical exam—every 1 to 5 years until the age of 65, and then yearly
  • Comprehensive eye exam—every 2 years until the age of 60, and then yearly
  • Dental cleaning and oral exam—every 6 months, or at least once per year
  • Hearing test—at least once per year between the ages of 18 and 50, and every 3 years after 50 years of age

Recommended Screening Procedures for Healthy Adults

Other screening procedures and diagnostic tests that may be recommended in healthy adults include:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (in men who smoke or have smoked, this test is recommended once between the ages of 65 and 75)
  • Alcohol counseling (recommended for all primary care and prenatal care visits)
  • Aspirin therapy to help prevent coronary heart disease (recommended in women 55 to 79 years of age and men 45 to 79 years of age—when benefits outweigh risks)
  • Breast cancer chemoprevention (recommended in women with high risk for the disease and low risk for adverse effects of the medication)
  • Blood pressure screening (recommended at every exam)
  • Breastfeeding counseling (recommended for women during pregnancy and after giving birth)
  • Cholesterol screening recommended for men over the age of 35 and women over the age of 45)
  • Colorectal cancer screening (e.g., fecal occult blood test, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy; recommended beginning at 50 years of age until the age of 75)
  • Depression screening (recommended for primary care when mental health care providers are available)
  • Diabetes screening (recommended for adults without diabetes symptoms who have sustained blood pressure higher than 135/80 mm Hg)
  • Folic acid supplements (.4 to .8 mg daily recommended in women of childbearing age)
  • Hepatitis B screening (recommended for women who are pregnant)
  • HIV screening (recommended for all adults at increased risk of infection)
  • Mammography (recommended every 1-2 years in women beginning at the age of 40)
  • Obesity screening (recommended for all primary care visits)
  • Osteoporosis screening (recommended for women 65 years of age and older)
  • Pap test (also called Pap smear; recommended every 2 years in women 21 to 30 years of age and every 3 years after the age of 30)
  • Prenatal care (recommended for women who are pregnant; includes anemia screening, bacteriuria screening and other tests)
  • Rh incompatibility screening (recommended at first prenatal exam and again at 25-28 weeks gestation in women who are Rh-negative, unless the biological father is also Rh-negative)
  • STD/STI screening (recommended for all sexually active men and women)
  • Tobacco use screening (recommended for all primary care visits)

Recommended Immunizations for Healthy Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following vaccines are recommended for healthy adults in the United States:

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine—yearly (ask your doctor which of the available vaccines is recommended for you)
  • Tdap vaccine—one vaccine, then a Td booster every 10 years (Tdap is recommended in adults over the age of 65 who have contact with babies under one year old.)
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine—2 doses
  • HPV vaccine for women—3 doses before the age of 26
  • HPV vaccine for men—3 doses before the age of 21; 3 doses in men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 22 to 26 who have not started or completed the vaccine series
  • MMR vaccine—1 or 2 doses before the age of 55, or over the age of 55, if recommended by your doctor due to certain health, job or lifestyle risks (most people born after 1957 have already received one dose of MMR)
  • Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine—1 or 2 doses before the age of 65, if recommended by your doctor due to certain health, job or lifestyle risks; 1 dose after age 65
  • Meningococcal vaccine—1 or more doses, if recommended by your doctor due to certain health, job or lifestyle risks
  • Hepatitis A vaccine—2 doses, if recommended by your doctor due to certain health, job or lifestyle risks
  • Hepatitis B vaccine—3 doses, if recommended by your doctor due to certain health, job or lifestyle risks

Remember, you are the best advocate for your own health. Honest communication is the key to a good provider-patient relationship. If you have questions or concerns about your health care—including recommended exams, screening procedures, diagnostic tests, treatments or immunizations—talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 17 May 2012

Last Modified: 17 Apr 2014