March 20, 2012
No one would expect their car to keep performing at its peak without its annual service or regular checks on the oil and tyre pressure and much the same can be said about the human body.
Scheduling an annual health check will do far more than just spot any potential problems – it can also provide an increased awareness of the state of your health and gives you a regular opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have about your weight, diet or lifestyle with your doctor or health professional.
Although health checks are more commonly associated with older individuals, in reality it is never too early to start. With increasing numbers of teenagers living a sedentary lifestyle, annual heath checks can help to make them fully aware of the importance of remaining active and eating a balanced diet.
Following a health screening, the results of basic blood tests such as cholesterol, kidney function, fasting blood sugar, urine and thyroid function can all help spot potentially debilitating conditions such as diabetes at an early stage, allowing treatment to begin even before any symptoms have developed.
Early diagnosis vastly increases the chances of making a full recovery and also means that individuals are more likely to avoid life-threatening complications that can result from inaction.
One simple procedure that can be carried out during an annual health screening is a blood pressure check. Around one in five adults has elevated blood pressure and this can place great stress on the heart, leaving you at greater risk of stroke or heart attack.
Skin cancer is one of the fastest growing forms of the disease in the world. When spotted in the early stages, most types have a cure rate of more than 90 per cent. A health screening is an opportunity for an expert to carry out a close examination of your body, paying particular attention moles and areas of lighter or darker pigmentation.
Having such checks carried out on a yearly basis means one set of results can easily be compared with another, making it easier to see if moles have grown or changed shape – both potential warning signs of the presence of melanoma.
Many people suffer from deteriorating vision and hearing as the years go by. Many simply dismiss such symptoms, putting them down to nothing more than old age. While this many be true in many cases, such symptoms may also indicate the presence of a degenerative disease that could be successfully treated if spotted early enough. Studies suggest that around one in three adults do not get regular eye exams.
In addition to the above checks, men should be screened for both testicular and prostate cancer. Both these conditions benefit enormously from early detection. Women of all ages should receive regular pelvic exams and pap smears while women over the age of 40 should have annual mammograms.
Both sexes can benefit from tests designed to check bone density as they get older so they can receive early treatment to reduce the chance of suffering breaks or fractures as a result of osteoporosis in later life.