The importance of a medical check-up

It doesn’t matter what state your health is in, as an adult you should be going for routine medical check-ups.

The reason why you should be getting checked by your doctor even when you are feeling healthy is that the medical exams can help detect health problems early on. Sometimes they can be detected before they have even started.

Once the problem has been detected the doctor can help you with treatment and even a cure which ultimately gives you a better chance at a happy, healthy and longer life.

Of course, your age, health, family history and lifestyle choices will affect how often you need to receive a check-up at your health practitioner.

Do not wait until you are sick before you pay a visit to the doctor for what should be a routine examination. Rather make it a habit to take care of yourself and your health by making regular appointments with your doctor throughout your life.

Regular health checks and screening tests are vital for 3 reasons:

  1. Health problems can be detected at an early stage before they develop into something much more serious.
  2. A screening test can detect and prevent a serious illness like cancer.
  3. Preventing health problems from becoming chronic can save you money.

If you have a family history of a certain disease or other risk factors, regular health checks are even more important.

Here are the recommended health tests you should have at least every one to two years - more frequently if you are in the high-risk category:

  • Blood pressure - This is tested using a simple pressure cuff and will tell whether your blood pressure is too low, too high or normal.
  • Cholesterol - This will be checked to see if your LDL (bad cholesterol) level is high which can increase your risk of getting heart disease. A simple prick of the finger to test your blood will show your overall cholesterol levels.
  • Blood glucose - A blood test or simple finger prick will determine whether your glucose or blood sugar levels are normal or not. If the blood sugar tests high, it means your body is struggling to produce insulin and you may have diabetes.
  • Skin cancer screening - The doctor will carefully check for irregular marks on your skin and decide whether any look suspicious. These will be removed and tested for cancer.

Recommended health checks for women:

  • Mammogram - This is an x-ray of your breast to check for developing breast cancer.
  • Pap smear - Your doctor (or gynaecologist) will use a special stick to take cells from your cervix, which is then sent to a laboratory where it is examined for cancerous cells.
  • Bone density test - A special scan is used to determine how weak or strong your bone density is. Weak bones can mean you are at risk of getting osteoporosis.
  • Colonoscopy from age of 50 years

Recommended health checks for men:

  • Prostate exam - The doctor will test for prostate cancer by doing a digital rectal exam and possibly even a prostate-specific antigen blood test.
  • Testicular cancer test - This exam should be done at every routine physical.
  • Colonoscopy from age of 50 years

All these tests may seem quite overwhelming but by simply talking to your doctor about your health history at the first check-up will help you better plan for them. You may find that the doctor recommends you have some of the checkups more regularly because you are at a higher risk and others much less frequently because you are at a lower risk, or some not at all. At the end of the first one, you will not only have a better idea of your medical check-up schedule but peace of mind, too.

For more information please contact:
Dr E Kabuzi (Specialist Physician)
MBChB (MUK) DTM & H (WITS) Dip.Hiv.MAN (SA) Dip.Diabetes.MAN (UK)
Randfontein Private Hospital
+27 (0) 87 087 2731
info@lenmed.co.za or Thato.Sello@Lenmed.co.za 

Disclaimer: Any information contained here is merely a guideline. Always visit your healthcare practitioner for any health-related advice or diagnosis.

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