Like keeping an automobile fine-tuned, we have a role in our own health maintenance with regular health self-checks. Being aware of our bodies helps us know what changes may need to be evaluated by a doctor.
Early detection of many health changes results in better long-term outcomes. Also, body changes can signal treatable illnesses like cancer, heart problems and other issues.
To know what to look for, learn of any risk factors or family history of health conditions. Knowing your risks will also help your doctor suggest any lifestyle changes that could help lessen these risks.
Health Self-Checks for Wellness: Setting the Baseline
To get into a routine of health self-checks and to recognize problems, begin them when you are feeling healthy. This will let you establish what is normal for you.
- Take your temperature. Note, temperatures outside of your normal range often indicate illness.
- Check your heart rate. Your resting heart rate in the morning gives you an indication of general wellness and depends on your age and fitness. Checking every morning for a week can help determine your usual rate. Then, noticing a change of 10 beats per minute or more may be worth discussing with your doctor. A persistent rate above 100 beats per minute may indicate a serious health issue.
- Blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk for strokes, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
- Many blood and swab tests can be done at home and can indicate cholesterol levels, thyroid issues, urinary tract infections and strep throat. Remember, it is important that adverse results be interpreted by a doctor.
- Blood sugar levels can be tested with home blood glucose tests. Blood sugar levels are important because diabetes can lead to complications such as heart, kidney and dental disease, stroke and blindness.
Health Self-Checks for Abnormalities
After you have established your baselines, set up regular health self-checks for what might not be normal. As a result, finding any abnormalities early can lead to better treatment outcomes.
- Testicular and breast checks are important to discover lumps or swelling that may indicate cancer.
- Waist fat measurements. Too much fat around your waist can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Measure your waist at the level of your belly button. If your waist is 37 inches or more for men and 31.4 inches or more for women, you may be at risk, and should talk to your doctor about weight management.
- Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer you can screen for yourself. Look for new growths or moles that have changed, bleed, itch, burn or crust over. If you are fair skinned, have family history or spend a lot of time in the sun, you may also want to get checked annually by a dermatologist.
- Check your skin, hair and nails, as subtle changes can suggest things happening internally, nutritional imbalances or more serious issues such as a thyroid problem. Excessively dry skin, rough scaly patches or redness could be eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, but they can also offer clues about how your digestion and detox systems are functioning. Your doctor can determine the underlying causes of changes in skin, hair and nails and recommend treatments.
Take Your Findings to Your Doctor
It is beneficial to keep an eye on your own health. Also, it is also important to have a good relationship with a primary care provider. Your doctor will also consider your risk factors and maintain a complete picture of your overall health. Health self-checks help you catch potential health problems early. Evaluation by a doctor makes health self-checks most effective.