Routine medical check-ups will nip that debilitating disease in the bud

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It is quite ironic that we will routinely service our cars within the recommended mileage bracket but never bother to “service” our bodies. Besides the routine haircut, facials and nail treatment (which is, really, like washing and waxing a car), few of us both with overall wellness…..until that debilitating disease kicks in.  Imagine servicing your car only when it breaks down. That’s dancing with the grim reaper.

A regular health check-up can help you predict medical problems before they start.  By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you take steps that will improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

A regular health check-up also helps in saving the back-breaking cost of treatment by diagnosing a disease early enough. “The money that would have been used for disease treatment is saved when a disease is prevented or detected and treated at early stage,” said Dr. Kahaki Kimani, an ophthalmologist at Eagle Eye Laser Centre, Nairobi.

Your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices that is, what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke, and other important factors have a bearing on how often you need healthcare.

During a check-up, there is also need for you to inform your doctor about congenital diseases in your family. Family history might influence your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Your doctor will assess this risk and advise appropriately.

In addition to treating you when you are sick, your doctor can recommend a program designed to help you stay healthy. This program tells the doctor which preventive services you need depending on your age, medical history and family history.

Preventive services include the tests (screenings) to check your general health, regular measurements of weight and blood pressure, advice about diet, exercise, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, stress and accident prevention, immunizations(for both children and adults) and special tests at certain times in your life, such as during pregnancy and past the age of 50.

After a check-up, follow your doctor's advice to the letter. This is most important in the choice of healthy lifestyle and use of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

When visiting the doctor for a regular check-up, write down a list of issues and questions. Also, review any existing health problems and note any changes in your health.Bring to the attention of the doctor if you have noticed any bodily-function changes, including lumps, skin rashes, pain, dizziness, fatigue etc.

 Crucial check-ups for women

Adult women should have their weight and blood pressure checked regularly. They should also have a Pap test at least every three years to screen for cervical cancer, starting at age 21. Women aged 65 and above should be tested for osteoporosis. Those between the ages of 50 and 74 should have a mammogram every two years to screen for breast cancer while those with a higher risk factor (mostly hereditary), may need to have mammograms more often. Women should be tested for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75. Certain people may need to continue being tested for colorectal cancer until age 85.If your doctor orders these tests for you, it does not mean he or she thinks you have a health problem.

Your doctor may give you advice about exercise and diet, and other lifestyles changes that will ensure you are in optimum health.

Crucial check-ups for men

Adult men should have their weight and blood pressure checked regularly. Men age 35 and above should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly. Beginning at age 50 and continuing until 75, men should be tested for colorectal cancer. Certain people may need to continue being tested for this type of cancer until age 85.

Crucial check-ups for children

Vaccines are one of the most important preventive services for children. Theyprotect children from diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, pneumonia and rotavirus. In addition to these vaccines, it isimportant to note that parents should be on the lookout for any physical, mental and emotional changes on their children.A doctor should check your child to ensure he or she is growing and developing properly.He should give advice on what you can do to keep your child's teeth healthy and how to keep your child safe from accidents and injuries. He should also talk to you about teaching your child healthy eating habits, routine exercise and the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Routine eye checkup for the whole family is also recommended. This will help prevent diseases such as glaucoma and eye cancer among others.

OTHER TIPS FOR STAYING HEALTHY

The choices you make about the way you live are important to your health. To this effect:

• Don't use any form of tobacco.

• Eat a healthy diet.

• Exercise regularly.

• Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

• Don't use illegal drugs.

• Practice safe sex.

• Use seat belts (and car seats for children) when riding in a car.

• See your doctor regularly for preventive care

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