The importance of undergoing regular medical check-ups cannot be overemphasized. We live in a fast paced world and sometimes we get carried away by the demands of life that we forget to consider our health which is a very important factor in determining the quality and longevity of our lives.
With Age comes invariable changes and a lot of bodily functions begin to decline, hence the need for regular health checks.
This need increases as one gets older. Apart from Age other factors which make these checks necessary include existing long term medical conditions, Past Medical History (medical conditions one has had in the past), Family History (conditions suffered in the family lineage), social and behavioral factors (i.e. unhealthy eating, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high risk sexual behavior etc.). These factors, among others, would make regular health checks very important.
Early detection of anomalies can alter disease progression, prevent complications and ultimately avert preventable death.
Where to get Assistance?
The Nigerian healthcare system is organized in three tiers, namely the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary healthcare systems.
At the primary healthcare centers individuals can access basic health testing and assistance from healthcare professionals. Primary healthcare centers can be found in wards and communities across the country.
The Secondary healthcare centers are found at the local government level and are designed to undertake healthcare services which may not be provided for in full by the Primary Health Centers. There are also the tertiary health centers that are highly specialized and can cater to more complex health needs.
Even though one feels healthy, there might be need to walk into any of these government institutions, follow the required procedures and ask to see a doctor for medical check-up.
There are also a lot of good private clinics that can provide this service.
We often don’t go to the doctors because we don’t want to spend money and we don’t have the time. Many serious medical conditions can be diagnosed early during routine medical check-ups. It is cheaper to manage at an early stage. Managing the complications that arise as a result of late detection will cost more in time and money.
Some religious and non-governmental organizations provide some of these services at no cost. It is highly recommended that one takes advantage of these opportunities when they arise.
Some Recommended Tests
It is highly advisable to see a licensed medical doctor who will determine in addition to physical examination what tests to run, based on your gender, age, environment and other factors. However these are some of the tests and the complications early detection can prevent.
- Routine Blood Pressure
There are simple non-invasive ways of checking your blood pressure. Early detection and management of elevated blood pressure can forestall complications like stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and untimely death. An individual can own and use a blood pressure kit after being guided appropriately by a medical professional.
- Blood Sugar
Persistently elevated blood glucose can indicate insulin resistance or deficiency as is found in Diabetes Mellitus. This condition has far reaching consequences like blindness, heart disease and chronic kidney disease. Diabetes Mellitus is also a leading cause of non-traumatic amputation. Routine blood glucose monitoring can aid early detection and prevent these complications. An individual can own and use a glucometer after being guided appropriately by a medical professional.
- Prostate Specific Antigen Screening (PSA) test is also advocated for men who are forty years and above and earlier for those with a family history of prostate cancer.
- Pap smear test can also help detect the onset of cervical cancer in women and ensure prompt management.
- Mammography for early detection of breast cancer especially in those who have no signs or symptoms of the disease.
- Fecal Occult Blood test & Colonoscopy for early detection of colorectal cancer
- Upper Gastro Intestinal endoscopy especially in those with peptic ulcer disease can help detect and prevent the transformation to stomach cancers.
- Retroviral Screening/HIV Test
Early detection of the HIV can help an individual live a normal life if medication is started at the appropriate time before complications occur. HIV impairs the function of the body’s immune system. Tuberculosis, some cancers and chronic diarrhoea are some of the manifestations of the late stage of the disease.
- Viral Hepatitis Screening
Early detection of Viral Hepatitis can prevent death. Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Viral Hepatitis can be complicated by liver cancer. The outcome is usually bad.
There are a lot more, not just Physical Health problems; Mental Health should not be overlooked. Depression, Anxiety disorder, Sleep disorders, Stress Induced Problems are all valid concerns. Regular medical checks can detect these before they become severe and your healthcare provider can help you manage and combat them effectively.
In my years of practice as a Medical Doctor I have come across several cases where preventable death occurred because of late detection and poor management.
Looking healthy and feeling healthy is no excuse to sit back and assume that everything is alright. There is no age restriction for routine medical examination. Just like you plan your business ahead, and put in strategies to mitigate risk, you should also see the importance of routine medical checks because it can not only save your life but will also improve the quality.