“Prevention is better than cure”
This famous proverb teaches us to live a healthy , disciplined and stress free life in order to “prevent” ourselves from having health issues which could cause us a great deal of suffering and loss. We always hear stuff like “have to eat right”, “need to be more active”, “be healthy” but we all know that it is easier said than done. In this day and age with the busy lifestyles we live we tend to compromise one of the most important aspects of our life… our health. This is evident with the growing numbers of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, liver diseases, kidney diseases and cancers. These could be considered as silent killers because these diseases will not show symptoms until it has done considerable harm. But sometimes you can do everything right and still these killers could show up unexpectedly. So how can we be sure that everything is fine?
This is where health screening comes up.
What is health screening?
Screening is a process where some specific examinations and tests are performed to detect a disease before the onset of symptoms. Sometimes your screening tests may not be in the ideal levels, but it does not mean that you would ineveitably develop a serious disease. But it could be the red flag needed to let you know that something has to change when it comes to your health. So the goal of screening is to detect a disease as early as possible to start treatment or to take any preventative measures if you are at risk. This way you could expect better outcomes, good control of the situation and reduce the risk of serious complications.
Why should you consider health screening?
By screening you can find diseases and medical conditions you were completely unaware of before they start showing symptoms. This way you could cure or control them before they progress to something more severe. This way you can save your time money and most importantly your quality of life.
You could also be aware of the risk factors you have for certain conditions. Risk factors are certain factors (age, sex, weight etc.), habits (unhealthy diet, smoking, sedentary lifestyle) that you possess or something in your surrounding which could make you vulnerable to diseases. By learning these risk factors you could make suitable adjustments to your lifestyle and prevent such situation.
Basically screening helps you keep your health in track.
What are the screening tests?
Depending on your requirements the present day health facilities will have different screening programs. For more details about which tests you should opt for contact your doctor.
Basically there is general screening where your whole body is screened. This would include;
Medical history and examination (Includes blood pressure monitoring)
1. BMI and waist circumference – screening for obesity
2. Full blood count
4. Liver function test
6. S Creatinine
7. Fasting Blood Sugar
8. Lipid profile – to detect the cholesterol levels
9. Urine full report
10. Post Prandial Blood Sugar
12. Chest X-ray
13. U S Scan of Abdomen
Then there are programs that screens our heart, which include physical examination including BMI and blood pressure, ECG, blood tests for cholesterol, diabetes and additionally might do stress ECG (exercise ECG) and echocardiogram as per doctors request.
If you are at risk of developing diabetes or if you are already diagnosed with diabetes you could benefit from diabetic screening programs which not only checks your blood sugar levels, but also checks the progression using HbA1C test. Also this program includes screening for diabetes related complications such as your eyes, kidneys, feet, and heart.
Another important program is the cancer screening, especially for women past 35 years of age it is advised for them to do a mammogram which is used to screen breast cancer and a pap smear for cervical cancer. Also CA-125 test which is a blood test is done along with a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan to detect ovarian cancer early.
For men, PSA test- a blood test along with a digital rectal examination can be done to detect prostate cancer at an early stage.
Other than that colorectal cancer is screened by using methods like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood test. By doing so we can find precancerous polyps and remove them before they become cancerous. This is usually done after the age of 50.
Your doctor will decide and advise what screening tests are beneficial for you and request them.
What is next?
If those basic screening tests turn out to be good or within normal your doctor will reassess in another few years. However if the tests show some irregularity .i.e. high blood pressure or increased cholesterol or sugar levels or if your physical examination reveals signs of a disease your doctor will suggest running some diagnostic test.
What happens if your screening test detect ‘something’?
Well… depending on the severity your doctor will decide on the course of management. It could be dietary modifications, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking inclusive of being more active and other measures like medication and various steps to minimize the risk of developing a serious condition.
Our health is very important when it comes to our quality of life. And health screening makes it possible for us to take control of our health and keep it in check. However we should always keep in mind that screening does not always mean prevention. You have to take the responsibility of your own health. So health screening together with a good balanced diet, regular exercise, healthy lifestyle and good stress management will help us live healthy and happy life
So if you think that you should get yourself checked or if you haven’t visited your doctor’s office in a while contact them now.