Modern medicine has come such a long way. We have a range of screening tests currently available to us to detect many health conditions. Many of these screening tests are relatively non-invasive, inexpensive and easy to do. With this in mind it surprises me that the current statistics show that only two thirds of eligible Australian women undertake the recommended Pap testing and mammogram. Similarly, just over one third of Australian men and women undertake the recommended bowel cancer screening. I highly recommend all adults undertake the recommended health checks. These may just save your life if a potentially fatal health condition is detected early enough to treat.
What Exactly Are Health Checks?
Health checks are done by a doctor, usually a general practitioner or family physician, to detect a common, treatable, and potentially serious health condition. Getting a health check is important for all Australian adults as many health conditions have only mild or no symptoms, which means that even though you are feeling well you still may be harbouring a serious disease or other.
How Often Should You Have a Health Check?
I recommend all Australian adults have a health check at least every second year from the age of 18 years. A health check may comprise of the some of following depending on if you have any symptoms, your past medical history, and your family medical history:
- Blood pressure screening
- Blood testing – looking for nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, thyroid conditions, liver and kidney conditions, high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Cancer screening – for example skin checks to detect skin cancers, Pap tests every two years for women to detect cervical cancer, breast examinations at any age for women as well as a mammogram in those older than 40 years to detect breast cancer, bowel cancer screening, and prostate and testicular cancer screening for men.
- Heart screening – this might include an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart rhythm and heart health. This might also include a referral for an exercise stress test to ensure you are not at risk of a heart attack.
- Lung screening – this might include a spirometry lung function test to rule out asthma and/or other lung condition. It may also include a referral for a chest X-ray, especially in smokers, to rule out cancer or other conditions.
- Eye screening – traditionally undertaken by an optometrist to check eye health.
- Genetic screening – there are situations where genetic screening is undertaken to determine your genetic risk for a disease. This is often done in consultation with a genetic counsellor, especially where the condition has serious implications for your health or that of your family.
Where Do You Go to Get A Health Check?
Your local general practitioner is the best person to see to organise having a comprehensive health check. In some cities there are also specialised women’s and men’s health clinics that undertake health screening. If you have already had a recent health check but find that you have one or more of the health warning signs listed below under the heading ‘Watch Out for Health Warning Signs’ do consult with your health practitioner sooner rather than later. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to ignoring health warning signs. I have personally seen the devastating consequences of those individuals who had been exhibiting some significant health warning signs but had put off seeing me as their practitioner until it was too late.
Holistic Medical Doctor