Your Health is too Important to be Routine!
Follow these 8 tips to a Healthy Screening Test!
Many people actually put off seeing their doctor due to lack of time, anxiety about their check-up results or the belief that "I'm in good shape. I have nothing wrong with me." This is perfectly natural but you must keep in mind that most check-ups are very quick, easy, painless and demand only a few hours of your time every one or two years. And the most important of all, they can actually save your life.
When do you need a check-up?
If you haven't seen a doctor in the last 3 years, you should make an appointment right away for a general or body check-up. This will be your health blueprint which a doctor can refer to for any future diseases you may have. Most people need a check-up every 3 years. This may vary, depending on your age and your state of health.
Many of the regular tests are given to everybody during a check-up. You may have to request specific tests because they are usually given only to people with a risk of getting a hereditary disease or for any other reasons you may deem yourself at risks.
4. Results may or may not come to you automatically, so ask your doctor when to expect them or how to get them.
5. Point out anything unusual to the doctor.
6. Beware of magnetic materials on you such as pacemakers, protheses or hair pins when you go for tests such as CT-Scan.
7. If you are claustrophobic or have any other paranoia, please let the doctor be aware of this.
8. Do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions about the nature of the test and why it is done. Doctors are obliged to explain clearly to their patients about whatever tests the latters are undertaking.
Young or old, regular check-ups are important in assessing your general state of health. Many serious health threats can be detected early during routine screening procedures.
Types of common screening tests
How: Usually done on a scale and with a measuring stick.
Why: Weighing and height tests may seem commonplace tests for you but they are very important tests. They provide a picture of your general health condition, together with your height, weight and age.
Loss of weight without dieting could mean a digestive system disorder - an ulcer, a diabetes, overactive thyroid - or it can be a symptom of some types of cancer. Sometimes sudden weight loss may be due to a depression or an eating disorder.
Serious gain in weights increases the risk of heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. Unexplained weight gain may be due to an underactive thyroid.
Loss of height, especially in women after their menopause, can reveal a risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks.
How: By listening to your pulse through a stethotoscope, after the blood flow in your arm has been restricted with an inflatable cuff and then released, your doctor can assess your blood pressure level.
Why: Most people with blood pressure are unaware of it until they are tested because blood pressure usually have no symptoms. If you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, you are at risk of heart disease, stroke or kidney failure. If your reading is on the high side for the first time, you will need repeat checks to confirm the results, as many factors can temporarily affect blood pressure levels.
If it continues to stay high, you may require treatment to lower your blood pressure. This can include making simple changes to both your diet and lifestyle, doing some light exercise like running and possibly taking medication.
High Cholesterol Level
How: By taking a small sample of blood in a syringe, usually from a vein in your arm, a doctor can analyse and assess levels of cholesterol and other types of fatty substances found in your blood. You are obligated to do a blood test. A doctor usually requires your signed permission to allow him to perform a test on your blood.
Why: An unhealthy balance of blood cholesterol and fats is associated with the narrowing of arteries which can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart attack.
If a close relative has had one of these disorders, or had a heart attack under the age of 50, such a blood test will reveal if you are prone to a high level of cholesterol.
Please do not consider using Do-It-Yourself blood cholesterol testing kits because they are usually not reliable and it is not safe for you and your family to play with blood.
Depending on the levels of fat/cholesterol in your blood, you may be advised to cut back on your intake of dietary fat and foods which contain cholesterol and/or take cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Blood Sugar Level
How: By testing a sample of your urine, your doctor can see whether your blood sugar level is normal and whether the sugar is spilling over in your urine.
A special paper strip is dipped into the sample. The colour it changes is matched to a chart revealing the degree of sugar (glucose) present. If the level is high, a blood test is given.
Why: Excess blood sugar is one sign of diabetes. Diabetes can be treated. The severe type requires a regular insulin injection and a careful diet. The other non-severe type can be controlled by diet alone.
How: Using an ophtalmoscope, an optician inspects the inside fo your eye and its optic nerve. Next, an instrument known as a tonometer painlessly measures the fluid pressure within the eyeball. Finally, perimetry tests check how you can see out of the 'corners' of your eyes.
Why: Chronic simple glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve is slowly and unnoticeably damaged. If not detected in time, it can lead to blindness. The condition affects older people so the first check needn't be done until you are 40, unless someone in your close family has had it - in which case you should start getting tested in your thirties.
Glaucoma can often be brought under control with eye drops or drugs. However, if these fail surgery may be the only option for you.
Types of specific screening tests
How: A smear test is performed to screen for cancer of the cervix and cell changes which could develop into cancer if not treated. The cervix is the the neck of the womb located at the top of the vagina.
Why: During an internal examination, a few cells from the cervix are smeared onto a slide, which is sent to a laboratory for examination. Any woman who has had sexual intercourse can get cervical cancer. It's easily cured, if detected in time, by various treatments including laser or cryotherapy (freezing the cancerous cells) which will destroy any abnormal cells.
How: A bone-density scan can help determine your risk of developing osteoporosis. It measures the density - and therefore the strength of the bones. Fully clothed, you lie on a table while a machine similar to an X-Ray machine scans your hipbone, spine or wrist. The procedure takes about 15 minutes.
Why: Though lost bone cannot be replaced, the rate at which it diminishes can be slowed down by drugs.
How: Mammogram are x-ray scanning for breasts.
Why: Possibly one of the most important of all screening tests for women, mammograms can detect early breast cancer before it produces any signs or symptoms.
Younger women generally only have a mammogram if they are at risk of developing breast cancer, for instance if they have a family history of the disease.
Below is a description of some of the Health Screening Packages WorldPath Clinic provides.