Recently a friend of mine was diagnosed with a serious disease, one which he could have prevented if he had heeded his doctor’s advice of regular medical check ups.
From the days when we were in primary school, we were always told ‘prevention is better than cure’ but unfortunately we take this for granted.
As we begin new years we always come up with resolutions but one important New Year resolution that we often forget to make is to have that yearly medical check up done.
This annual examination is important because early detection of disease is the key to a longer, better life. Almost 60 per cent of the causes of death due to disease are preventable when diagnosed early. It’s important to invest a little time and money in maintenance of your body just as you would your car pays big dividends later on.
The idea of a yearly medical examination to ward off disease and prolong life is not new. As early as the 25th Century BC, a Chinese emperor wrote: “The superior physician helps before the early budding of the disease.”
Today’s health checkups takes this ancient wisdom further by combining research findings with the range of factors that influence a person’s risk of serious illness and using that knowledge, doctors can now zero in on specifics for a particular individual selecting those that will help the person avoid serious illness.
Suggestions as to how often one should go for a medical check up vary, but an easy rule of thumb would be that during each decade of life, two examinations for individuals in their 20s, three exams for those in their 30s, four for those in their 40s and yearly after age 50.
You should have a physical examination every one to two years. Your blood pressure, height, weight, and body mass index (BMI), waist to hip ratio (W/R) are checked.
Significant loss or gain of weight without trying can signify serious health problems like heart, liver or kidney disease. Weight loss could indicate chronic infection or cancer.
Many people have high blood pressure and do not even know it, and the only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked yearly. If the top number (the systolic) is greater than 130 or the bottom number (the diastolic) is greater than 85, you may have high blood pressure. Your doctor would confirm this
Cholesterol levels should be checked every year. Any one diagnosed to have high cholesterol levels should have their levels checked every six months.
Go to the dentist every year for an examination and cleaning. Have an eye exam every 2 years for those below the age of 40 without an eye problem and yearly for those with an eye problem.
Those over the age of 40 should have a yearly check up whether they have an eye problem or not. Anyone with a chronic illness like diabetes, hypertension, or short sightedness requires more frequent visits to the eye specialist.
Cancer of the testes is the commonest cancer in young men between the ages of 20 to 40 years, but 95 per cent of those affected are readily cured if the cancer is caught early enough. All men should examine their testicles at least once a month for any abnormal lumps.
This is best done in the bath or shower when the scrotum is warm and relaxed. Each testicle should feel soft and smooth - like a hard-boiled egg without its shell, with no lumps, swelling, irregularity, abnormal hardness or tenderness. If you notice anything unusual, see your doctor as soon as possible.
This is important for both men and women because cancer of the breast does occur in both sexes. You should do a monthly self breast examination, which, besides looking for any abnormal changes helps you learn the nature of your breasts and you are able to detect any changes early.
Early detection of cancer saves lives. Contact your doctor immediately you notice anything like a lump. Your doctor should do a complete breast examination on you every one to two years from age 20-40, and yearly after that.