Experts have moved away from the old idea that you should have a medical check-up every year. That said, there are some tests that should be done regularly just to make sure your health and body is in perfect working order. We asked our experts at Skin and Health Renewal to share those that we shouldn’t be skipping.
Women should have one every two years. This screening test picks up signs of irregularities that could lead to cervical cancer if not treated. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. The smear can also detect HPV (human papilloma virus), which is known to increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Breast exam or mammogram
When you go for the pap smear, your gynaecologist or doctor will most likely examine your breasts as well. Ask her (or check online tutorials) how to check them yourself and do it at least once a month. Do it while you spread on body lotion after a bath or shower. Let your doctor know right away if there are any bumps or inconsistencies. Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women, but the prognosis is good if it’s detected early.
Blood pressure, cholesterol and weight
Have your blood pressure checked every two years (more often if it’s higher than 130/80), and your cholesterol levels every four years or so (more frequently if you have an abnormal result). High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for a number of diseases, so keep them in check. Being overweight is risky as well, so ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement every two years.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in South Africa. The risk increases as you get older, but it can affect anyone. See a dermatologist once a year and keep an eye out for marks or moles on your body that grow larger, bleed, are asymmetrical or change colour.
You might think if you’ve had a test for HIV and been cleared, you’re free of sexually transmitted infections. But there’s still a chance you could have contracted one of over 20 other STI types which may show no symptoms at all. Hepatitis B, for example, can cause damage to your liver. If you are under 30 and sexually active, have a urine test for chlamydia each year. It can affect your fertility and often has no symptoms.
Eye exams are not just about whether or not we need glasses. But eye specialist also check for early signs of problems such as glaucoma and other eye diseases, which are treatable if detected early. Have your eyes tested every two to five years, or as directed by your eye doctor.
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