Let’s face it – it’s more fun to spend time with friends or family than to spend time at the doctor’s office getting a preventative health test.
Sometimes you might feel that test just doesn’t fit into your schedule.
However, here are a few tests that not only don’t take much time, they can also save your life.
Simple Tests that Can Save Your Life
Cholesterol and Triglycerides: There are some tests that are as easy as a pinprick – consider getting your cholesterol tested every five years. The test should be done in the morning after ten hours of fasting.
Why is it important?
Problems with cholesterol often don’t appear until it’s too late and a simple blood test can help you get on the right track to get your cholesterol lowered, which can decrease chances of heart attack and stroke. Checking triglycerides is also important – high triglycerides can lead to type II diabetes.
How’s your blood pressure?
High blood pressure can increase the chance of heart attack, stroke or other medical problems. The test is painless and quick and if you happen to have high blood pressure, there are many ways to treat it.
Doctors recommend an annual mammogram every year starting at the age of 40. The procedure, involving compressing each breast in an imaging machine, can detect changes in your breasts before you can even feel the lump.
If you have a family history of breast cancer or have male breast cancer in your family, consider talking with your doctor about BRCA testing to find out whether you have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. Early detection can save lives.
The pap smear is a test doctors recommend every three years for women aged 21-65 who have had three normal results in a row. The quick test can be done as part of your yearly physical or by an OBGYN and doesn’t hurt at all.
The test detects cervical cancer, which is the tenth leading cancer. Doctors also recommend that patients aged 30 and over get tested for human papilloma virus (HPV).
Finally, the colonoscopy:
Colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the world, but a colonoscopy can detect it before it spreads. Doctors recommend people with average risk have screening colonoscopy every ten years beginning at the age of 50.
However, for those with a family history of colon cancer, doctors recommend the colonoscopy every five years beginning ten years before the family member was first diagnosed.
The test is a short outpatient procedure in which the doctor views your colon via a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the tip. It’s over before you know it.
A few suggestions from experienced testers: the afternoon and evening of the prep, follow the doctor’s instructions to the letter – if your colon isn’t 100% clear, you’ll have to do it all over again, so be sure to clear it out!
Other suggestions: drink the prep cold, use a straw, and mix in some flavoring – just make sure it’s sugar-free and not red or orange, which could skew the results of the colonoscopy.
Keep in mind that if the prep is your downfall but you know you need the test, ask your doctor if there are alternative prep methods that might work better for you. This short sacrifice can save your life!
Although everyone has a busy schedule, stopping to take a few quick tests each year can make a huge difference in your health. Consider making an appointment with your doctor to schedule these tests today.
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