Many of us often only go to the doctor when we’re presenting symptoms and our bodies tell us that something is wrong, which isn’t really the best way to go about caring for your overall health.
Having regular check-ups with the doctor, even if you don’t feel out of sorts in any way, is vital. How is it that we can be so diligent about having our cars serviced, but don’t prioritise our own health in the same way?
Here are four checks you should have done:
If caught within the early stages of its development, colon cancer (medically referred to as colo-rectal cancer) – cancer of the lower part of your intestines – is curable with 90% of patients. This is why it’s important to catch it quite early.
The check-up can prove to be quite uncomfortable because a tiny scope and camera are inserted into your body through your rectum, but this shouldn’t be a reason to ignore this potentially life-saving procedure.
It’s recommended that men who present no risk factors, such as a family member who has been diagnosed with the cancer in the past, should start going for check-ups after the age of 50.
However, if you do present risk factors, then the general rule of thumb is to start going for regular check-ups when you are 10 years younger than the age at which your family member was diagnosed with cancer. For example, if you have an uncle who was diagnosed with cancer when he was 41, then you should start going for check-ups at 31.
Prostate cancer screening
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the second most-fatal cancer in men. There are two main ways to test for prostate cancer – a blood test and a digital rectal exam.
If you do present risk factors for the disease, Cancer.org recommends that you go for your first check-up from the age of 40. If this is not the case, then the organisation recommends that you start screening for the disease after you’ve reached 50.
Men should have cholesterol screenings from the age of 20, as this is often a good indicator of whether one is at risk of heart disease. This is vital, because, according to Stats SA, heart disease is the sixth most common causes of natural death in South Africa.
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The blood test will usually be measured in milligrams per decilitre of blood. Caring recommends that one should have their cholesterol checked at least every five years. This is only if you fall in the safe zone. If the test reveals high levels, then it is likely that your doctor will recommend that you take the test at least twice a year.
Blood pressure test
While checking your blood pressure regularly might seem like a trivial and almost pointless exercise to do regularly, it is actually one of the most important check-ups. Globally, one in every five adults has been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension increases the risk of a heart attack and can also lead to strokes.
One should start going for regular blood pressure check-ups (once a year, if readings are normal), beginning as early as possible.
Additional sources: Cancer.org, Caring