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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Health Checks We Should All Be Having

When you are a child, your parents take you to the doctors and the dentist to make sure that you have all of the necessary health checks. You have the school nurse to keep an eye on you, and you do not have to think about anything to do with your health - someone else is always watching out for you. However, as you grow up, it becomes your responsibility, and that can be a pretty scary thing, especially as we age, we are more prone to specific health conditions.

To help you stay healthy as you get older, we have put together a list of some of the health checks you should regularly be having. As with all things, prevention is better than cure, so by making sure you go for all these when they are due, you can hopefully pick up on any problems before they become even more significant, and perhaps untreatable.


Diabetes
Diabetes is on the rise, with more and more cases of type one and type diabetes being diagnosed each year. Both can be incredibly dangerous - and fatal - if left untreated, so having regular checks to make sure you have not got the condition is essential. Type one diabetes is not linked to diet or lifestyle, and while it can develop at any age, it is most commonly picked up before the age of 40. It is an autoimmune condition and is where the pancreas does not produce any insulin.  Type two diabetes is the form you are most likely to read about in the media as it can be (but not always) linked to diet and lifestyle. This where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body's cells does not react to insulin. It is more commonly found in those who are overweight and while more common in older people, is being diagnosed earlier and earlier. If you are in one of the 'at-risk' categories for diabetes or see any symptoms that are linked to it (increased thirst, frequent urination, tiredness being some of the main ones), it is important to get checked.

Cholesterol
Having high cholesterol levels in your blood can put you at an increased risk of heart disease and strokes, two of the leading causes of death in the western world. Your body creates all the cholesterol that it needs, so adding even more with your diet can send your levels too high. As you get older, it is crucial to have it monitored, more so if you are overweight, have a family history of heart issues or high cholesterol and if you have certain conditions, such as diabetes.

Blood pressure
Keeping an eye on your blood pressure is essential because if it is high, just like cholesterol, it puts you at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as aneurysms and dementia. Blood pressure is something that can be easily treated, so it is worth getting it checked regularly and sorting it out before it becomes a bigger issue.

Cervical screening
In the UK, women are offered cervical screening, which is more commonly known as a smear test, every three years between the ages of 25 and 64. This is to keep an eye on any changes to the cells in the neck of the cervix, which can be a sign of cervical cancer developing if not treated. While they are never the most fun things, it is important that you attend them when called for one.

Eye tests
Regular eye tests are necessary because as well as picking up any vision problems, they can also tell you about other significant health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, which could lead to sight loss. Try to get your eyes checked every two years if possible, and more often if you start to experience any problems with your vision.

Dental check-ups
Regular dental check-ups are important to maintain healthy teeth and gums. We also tend to underestimate just how much poor dental health can affect the rest of your body. For example, did you know that your wisdom teeth can be a possible cause of throat infections, and poor gum health can lead to heart problems? Brush your teeth at least twice a day and go to the dentist every six months or so.

Hearing Tests
Our hearing is one of those things that we tend to overlook until we start experiencing a problem. Often when this happens, it is too late, or at the very least much more difficult to do anything about it. An untreated hearing impairment can limit learning potential, cause social anxiety, put strains on relationships and even lead to early dementia.

Obviously, there are health check-ups and screening that, like the cervical screening, are relevant to just men or just women. Women are invited to breast checks (mammograms) between the ages of 50 and 71, and men may want to be checked for prostate cancer if they begin to show any signs or symptoms. All adults over the age of 55 are offered bowel cancer screening. Of course, you should never wait until these if you are showing any signs or symptoms of anything remotely untoward.

Your doctor may also recommend other tests based on your family history, your medical history or current symptoms. Depending on the results of those tests, your doctor may then want to provide a course of treatment, investigate further or refer you to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
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