How Regular Health Checks Save Lives

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Introduction

From the time you are born and right into old age, it makes good health sense to go for regular medical health checks as research shows that these can actually save lives – whatever your age. It is recommended that individuals of all ages should see their primary care provider at least once a year except when there is a family history of chronic conditions when it is suggested that more frequent health checks should take place. Such chronic conditions include being obese, having high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease, heart attack or stroke. These risk factors might mean seeing a cardiologist who is specifically equipped to help patients manage and reduce their cardiovascular risk.

Along with such regular health checks is the importance of a healthy lifestyle as the two go hand in hand. You can actively contribute to good results from your regular health checks when you follow a natural and healthy lifestyle with: sufficient good quality sleep; regular exercise; plenty of fresh (preferably raw or lightly steamed) vegetables and fruit (organic where possible); good fats such as grass fed butter, organic coconut oil and olive oil; organic, free range eggs and poultry; meat and dairy from grass fed animals; high vitamin D levels through as much exposure of the skin as possible to sunlight between 10am and 2pm and/or vitamin D3 supplementation; good hydration; and the avoidance of sugar, artificial sweeteners and all processed foods as well as contact with chemicals and toxins in personal hygiene products, cleaning and laundry products and more.

It is also wise to carry out your own up-to-date research on what regular health checks are considered necessary because opinions change. For example, the recommendation for mammograms has recently been down graded to less often whilst many natural health sites are advocating the use of safer thermograms instead. Their concern is that mammograms expose your body to radiation that can be 1,000 times greater than that from a chest x-ray, posing risks of cancer. Mammography also compresses the breasts tightly, and often painfully, which could lead to a lethal spread of cancerous cells, should they exist. On the other hand, thermographic screening is simple, measuring the radiation of infra-red heat from your body and translating this information into anatomical images. Thermography uses no mechanical pressure or ionizing radiation.

A similar concern has been expressed over excessive x-rays (including dental x-rays) and CT scans (with 100 times the radiation of a conventional chest x-ray) during health checks. Far from these particular health checks saving lives, they could actually be the cause of death in some cases. Immunizations often form part of regular health checks but vaccines are another bone of contention particularly the number, frequency and the use of multiple vaccines in one day. Chickenpox vaccines are not given in the UK because of concerns for the elderly who become more at risk of shingles if they are not exposed to chickenpox in young children to boost their antibodies. So be aware and informed so you can make your own decisions.

New born babies to a year old

Regular health checks are carried out soon after a baby is born and during the first year by a paediatrician, doctor or at a clinic. Such health checks cover growth measurements; the head and how the fontanelle is closing; examining inside the ears with an otoscope; checking the eyes and the baby's responses; looking inside the mouth for any signs of infection and for teething progress; listening to the heart and lungs by using a stethoscope; feeling the abdomen; checking the genitalia for any unusual lumps, tenderness or infection as well as (in boys) checking that both testes are down in the scrotum; moving the legs to check the hips; as well as discussing with the parent about general development. Later, observing and discussing when the baby starts to smile, roll over, sit up, walk and the use of hands and arms. During the health check, the pediatrician will test reflexes and general muscle tone.

Toddlers and young children

When a baby starts to walk and becomes a toddler, the doctor will watch him or her take a few steps to make sure the legs and feet are properly aligned and move normally. Regular check ups with healthcare provider for toddlers and young children are a chance for the child's development to be checked as well as to catch or prevent any problems. Young children should also be seen in the case of:

- Significant weight gain or loss
- Sleep problems or change in behavior
- Fever higher than 102
- Rashes or skin infections
- Frequent sore throats
- Breathing problems

This can also be the time that parents or teachers recognize any learning disabilities or behavioral problems in children so that they can be helped where necessary.

Teens

Teen health checks are very important as these years are such growing and developing ones. Girls should have their first visit to the gynaecologist after they have commenced their periods, while both boys and girls should have their initial talk about sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the early teens if not before. Sexually active teens can mean a serious impact on their health, requiring regular health checks as they have a higher chance of pregnancy and contracting an STD because of more than one partner, possible carelessness and lack of protection.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all young people aged 11 to 21 be seen annually by their pediatrician with the evaluation including a history of what is going on in the peen’s life with a physical examination, screening for vision and hearing and laboratory tests. The extent of the medical check will depend on present circumstances and what tests have been done in the past.

Such checks could include: height and weight measured; blood pressure and pulse taken; discussion of important health and safety issues; checking the neck for swollen lymph nodes or an enlarged thyroid gland while the abdomen is touched and pressed to feel for any problems with the spleen, liver and kidneys; assessing respiration and any abnormal sounds from the heart; checking posture as any apparent abnormality of the spine may warrant X-rays (adolescents are prime candidates for developing progressive curvature of the spine such as scoliosis) while joints are tested for flexibility and muscle strength; checking the breasts for lumps (at this age, a mass in a girl’s breast is almost certainly benign while boys, early in puberty, often develop excess breast tissue which is usually temporary and more distressing than it is serious); inspecting the genitals; and conducting a full-body skin inspection, checking for acne and suspicious looking moles.

Adults

Males between the ages of 20 to 50 years should have these health checks:

- Dental examination every 6 months.
- Eye check up every 2 years but annually if there are current eyesight problems.
- A complete physical examination every 3 years including blood glucose test, thyroid function test, blood pressure check and cholesterol test but once a year if at risk of high blood pressure problems. Cholesterol is a body fat in the blood and it plays a vital part in normal body function, but if the levels of cholesterol are excessive, you could be at risk from heart disease. This is because fatty deposits build up and clog your arteries.
- A colon and rectal exam once a year after you reach the age of 40. Those at risk of colon conditions should have an occult blood test yearly or go for sigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years. If at risk of prostate cancer you should have the screening every year after age 45.

Females between the ages of 20 to 50 years should have these health checks:

- Dental examination every 6 months.
- Eye check up every 2 years but annually if there are current eyesight problems.
- A complete physical examination every year including weight and height, blood pressure check, blood glucose test, pap test, clinical breast exam, pelvic exam and thyroid function test. The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones that regulate your body’s metabolism (the rate at which it uses energy). If it isn’t functioning properly you may experience health problems.

Older Adults

Males aged 50 and older:

- Blood pressure should be checked yearly.
- Dental check every 6 months or as recommended by your dentist.
- A cholesterol blood test every 3 years if it is normal.
- A check up of the colon should be performed every 3 to 5 years as well as a check for prostate specific antigen once a year. Many early prostate cancers cause no symptoms, but if they do occur they can include increased frequency of urination, a weak stream of urine and the sudden, urgent need to urinate. Most men with these symptoms do not have prostate cancer. Two out of three men with a raised PSA level will not have prostate cancer. And a normal PSA level is sometimes found in men with prostate cancer.
- Have a regular physical examination every 1 to 2 years up to the age of 65. If you have diabetes or hypertension or are at risk of either, you should have the regular eye check at least every year.
- Yearly blood work should include a blood count to rule out any bleeding problems, glucose levels to detect diabetes, thyroid function tests to rule out any thyroid disorder, and blood electrolyte counts, which can detect kidney problems and early heart problems. Your doctor may also check some additional labs depending on your personal and family history. It is recommended that a baseline EKG be done for both men and women around age 50. It should then be done at least every two to three years, or more often if necessary.
- A colon and rectal exam once a year. Those at risk of colon conditions should have an occult blood test yearly or go for sigmoidoscopy every 3 to 5 years. If at risk of prostate cancer you should have the screening every year after age 45.
- Significant weight loss or gain without trying can signify serious health problems. Weight gain can mean fluid retention or perhaps heart, liver or kidney disease. Weight loss could indicate infection or cancer.

Females aged 50 and older

- An annual medical check to cover clinical breast exam and the advisability of a mammogram or suggested alternative thermogram; pap smear and pelvic exam every three years, or yearly if at higher risk for cervical or vaginal cancer.
- Measurement of bone mass: there is no standard for frequency of this exam but women with a family or personal history that puts them at higher risk of osteoporosis should have this test. Significant loss of height can indicate the acceleration of osteoporosis. Height is lost as a result of compression of the spinal cord.
- Blood pressure should be checked yearly.
- Dental check every 6 months or as recommended by your dentist.
- A cholesterol blood test every 3 years if it is normal.
- A check up of the colon should be performed every 3 to 5 years as well as a check for prostate specific antigen once a year.
- If you have diabetes or hypertension or are at risk of either, you should have the regular eye check at least every year.
- Yearly blood work should include a blood count to rule out any bleeding problems, glucose levels to detect diabetes, thyroid function tests to rule out any thyroid disorder, and blood electrolyte counts, which can detect kidney problems and early heart problems. Your doctor may also check some additional labs depending on your personal and family history. It is recommended that a baseline EKG be done for both men and women around age 50. It should then be done at least every two to three years, or more often if necessary.
- Significant weight loss or gain without trying can signify serious health problems. Weight gain can mean fluid retention or perhaps heart, liver or kidney disease. Weight loss could indicate infection or cancer.

Other concerns

These can be always be brought up at medical checks.

- A review of all medications whether prescription or over-the-counter and if these could be replaced or reduced with improved lifestyle habits and/or supplementation.
- If flu shots are recommended, discuss the dangers and how to boost the immune system instead.
- If you are a diabetic, your doctor should examine your feet and order additional tests for your blood sugar.
- Your annual medical check is also the time to discuss any emotional problems you are having. If you feel sad or lack energy, tell your doctor. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health.

Unless you are suffering from a chronic condition, there is no reason why with a healthy lifestyle and regular medical checks, you should not continue into the senior years, fit and healthy and able to live life to the full. Even with a chronic condition, it is well worth doing your own research for more natural remedies as it has been well documented how people with the know how and the resolve have reversed many such conditions.

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