Oftentimes, people only visit the nurse or the GP when they feel something is wrong. However, seeing a medical professional frequently is a really good idea. Why? Well, it’s good to know your healthy stats if nothing else! This is because you then have something to compare to when you’re not at your best.
How often should you have a check-up?
At least once per year is advisable, if not twice a year. Most people visit their dentist every six months but actually don’t bother giving their whole body a check-up with such regularity. It seems odd when you look at it in this way.
What is a regular check-up?
You can ask a GP or nurse to check your weight, your heart rate, your blood pressure and your oxygen saturation. You might even be able to request a routine blood test and full blood count to check your iron levels and other important blood levels. With regular check-ups, you will have measurable information about your health and will potentially be able to spot when something isn’t quite right before a problem gets worse or gets more serious.
Regular Health Check-Ups in Suffolk
Most GP surgeries have non-emergency appointments that are bookable a few weeks in advance. These are ideal for your regular check-ups as you won’t be taking up an appointment slot for an emergency need.
Specific Check-Ups for Women
Cervical screening (also called a smear test) checks on the health of your cervix. This is a test that actually helps to prevent cancer because it spots small changes in the cells of your cervix before they turn cancerous. Women ages 25 to 64 should have cervical screening regularly. Results of these tests arrive by letter within 2 weeks.
Breast screening is a test that is available to women aged between 50 and 71 and takes place every 3 years. The breast screening test is called a mammogram. This is an X-ray that is capable of spotting breast cancer before it can be seen or felt. If breast cancer is detected early, you are more likely to need less invasive treatment. There are fewer mastectomies (breast removal) in this group and less chemotherapy. Results will be sent to you within two weeks and only about 1 in 25 people need to return for further testing.
Bowel Cancer Screening
This is offered to people aged 55 and over, which is the age when you’re more likely to suffer from bowel cancer. There are two types of screening: a bowel scope screening test and a home testing kit. The Scope Screening test is a new type of test for people aged 55 that you only have to have once. It uses a flexible tube with a camera and checks for polyps. Polyps have the potential to turn into cancer.
The Home Testing Kit is sent to people aged 60 and 74 every two years. This checks whether or not there is any blood in your poo. This doesn’t diagnose bowel cancer but it helps doctors to decide whether you need further tests.
Health Checks you can do yourself
You don’t need a doctor or nurse for all health checks. There are many health checks that you can (and should) perform yourself. You can do basic health checks at home with regards to:
- Alcohol – look regularly at how much you’re drinking. People who abstain from drinking alcohol two days per week have better health in general.
- Dental care – make sure you clean your teeth properly and eat foods that are lower in sugar.
- Diet – having a healthy diet is essential for your general wellbeing and health. Drinking enough water and eating the right nutrients is paramount to your health.
- Physical activity – many people use fitness trackers to check how active they are. You don’t need to go to these lengths but it is a good idea to manually track how physically active you are. Exercise is good for your heart, bones and mental health and it can help to prevent lots of problems. You should do 30 minutes of moderate activity at least every day.
- Check your skin – you need to look for unusual freckles or moles and see a doctor if there are any changes or if anything looks unusual.
- Weight – weigh yourself regularly and try to stay within the healthy weight range for your height. This will help to prevent diseases like Type 2 diabetes and arthritis in the future.
Look after yourself in Suffolk
With the right health care services, health checks and screenings, you will be taking important steps in protecting your future and will have increased chances of living a healthier and longer life. Your family history, age and lifestyle choices will help to decide how often you need certain medical check-ups but remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.