Health Checks are often ignored for two reasons: either people fear bad news, or they simply don't think that it's necessary. Yet looking after our physical well-being is vital. The very point of health checks is that they can either reassure you that you are healthy, or show up potential problems that can be treated or monitored. So here are the essential health checks that you shouldn't neglect.
1. Blood Pressure
This is one of the most important health checks you can get. When taking the contraceptive pill, don't forget to get your blood pressure checked out regularly, as the pill can affect it. It's a good idea to get it checked every now and then anyway, as high blood pressure can be an indication of health problems – just pop along to your GP or pharmacy.
2. Eye Exam
Many people think that they don't need to get their eyes tested because their vision seems fine. However, the eye doctor does more than just see if you need glasses – they can detect many different problems with an examination of the eyes. It's also wise to have regular checks if you drive, to be sure that your sight is up to driving standard.
3. Pap Smear
Girls, if you're worried about the smear test being painful or uncomfortable, don't be. It's really not that bad an experience. Perhaps it's a little undignified, but what does that matter when it could save your life? At the very least, it will reassure you that nothing is wrong. For women, this is one of the most essential health checks, so it's important to get checked regularly.
4. Breast Test
Breast cancer may be rare in younger women, but it can happen, so learn to carry out a self-examination every month. That way you will notice any changes and can get them checked out. Often it's nothing to worry about, so as with the pap smear you can relax knowing that you've seen the doctor and you're okay, rather than panicking.
5. Manly Matters
Male health shouldn't be neglected either, so encourage your male relatives to have health checks. They should learn to examine themselves for signs of testicular cancer, and any urinary problems should be checked out for prostate problems, especially in older men.
I must admit to be guilty of letting this one slide. Just because you aren't suffering any pain or discomfort does not mean that your teeth are fine. Have regular dental checkups – there is a proven link between gum disease and heart problems, so looking after your teeth has benefits beyond a nice smile.
7. Sexual Health
Condoms are the best protection against STDs (aside from abstinence, of course), but they're not 100% guaranteed. So if you have a new partner, consider both getting your sexual health checked out. It's also an extremely smart move if you're planning to try for a baby (and therefore have unprotected sex).
While on the subject of trying to conceive, if that's on your mind then get a full health check from your doctor. You need to make sure that you are in the best shape, discuss if it is safe to continue taking any medication you're on while pregnant – and if you've been trying for a year without success, get investigated for potential problems.
It's really important to look after ourselves, and getting regular health checks can show up potential problems before they get serious, or while they are easier to treat. Health checks can also alleviate anxieties and show that there is nothing wrong. So don't be afraid to visit your doctor, dentist or optician. Do you get regular health checks, or would your doctor not recognise you if you walked through the door?
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