Visiting the doctor’s office is no one’s favorite pastime. However, attending routine medical checks is vital for staying healthy and picking up the early stages of a disease before any signs of illness develop. It is even more vital to stay well now that doctors’ waiting lists are the longest they have ever been.
Various health screening tests are available throughout a person’s lifetime. Receiving negative results can help reduce anxiety and give people the confidence to enjoy life by knowing they are fit and healthy.
What is health testing?
Doctors will routinely offer various health tests throughout a patient’s life to try and detect the early stages of specific life-threatening diseases before any signs of illness occur. These checks may need to be repeated regularly to ensure that any new signs of disease are diagnosed quickly.
Often, these tests do not diagnose a condition but instead indicate that doctors should perform further tests to rule out a disease of concern. They are also usually only suitable for healthy individuals as other more specific tests will be recommended for people with signs of illness.
Why is it important to have a health test?
It might feel like an inconvenience to repeatedly attend these screening checks. After all, no one likes visiting the doctors. However, the results of these checks can be life-saving, as they allow the identification of early signs of disease before they make a person ill.
Early disease detection allows treatment to be started earlier, increasing lifespan and quality of life. Generally, the sooner treatment begins, the easier a condition is to treat and the better the long-term outcome. Sometimes a doctor might also advise making lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of the disease occurring.
Who is eligible for health tests?
Age is the most common indication for screening eligibility, so a person’s age will determine when a doctor will start offering health test appointments. However, individuals might be offered a screening check earlier if their family has a history of a specific disease. This is because family members can be at a greater risk of developing diseases with a genetic link.
Medical professionals may also offer specific medical tests to patients showing particular risk factors. This allows regular monitoring of high-risk people.
Routine health tests
Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a screening check for every life-limiting disease. However, there is an ever-increasing number of tests on offer that can help diagnose some common diseases early. These tests greatly benefit a person’s health and have no negative consequences, so doctors strongly advise that everyone eligible should attend their appointments.
A cholesterol check involves a quick blood test to look at cholesterol levels within the body. Persistently high cholesterol levels can increase the risk of the individual developing heart disease, so doctors will advise trying to reduce cholesterol levels to decrease this risk. There are lifestyle changes that can be made to lower cholesterol, or medication can be prescribed if needed.
Blood pressure monitoring
Most people have had their blood pressure checked at some point in their lives, as it is a valuable test for monitoring various medical conditions. It is an easy, non-invasive test to perform, and the results are obtained immediately. High blood pressure can increase the risk of various heart conditions, so to reduce levels, doctors will advise making certain lifestyle changes, and they can prescribe medication for some cases.
Screening for diabetes can help diagnose the early stages of the disease and identify individuals with prediabetes, making it one of the most helpful health tests on offer. People with prediabetes have a higher than normal blood glucose level, which puts them at risk of developing diabetes in the future. This test enables people to make essential lifestyle changes early to try and slow down or even stop diabetes from developing.
Diabetes screening involves either a simple blood test to check glucose levels or an oral glucose challenge to determine how the body processes glucose over time. Doctors will often add the blood test to other blood screening checks performed at an annual MOT health check.
Cancer is one of the biggest causes of anxiety in the population. However, many screening checks can help diagnose cancer early or identify individuals at a higher risk of developing particular cancers. Most importantly, this enables early treatment, often improving the outcome and even achieving remission for some individuals.
There are various cancer screening tests available;
- Fecal occult blood test
- Cervical cancer smear
- Prostate-specific antigen test
Most of these tests are offered to people over 50, except for cervical cancer checks, which are available for those under 65. However, doctors might bring these checks forward for peace of mind if an individual has any risk factors.
Health testing is more important than it has ever been
Many medical centers are running at maximum capacity, so to ensure patient health is not compromised, it is vital now more than ever that everyone attends their screening appointments when advised by their doctor. This helps reduce the number of patients becoming seriously ill. Not only does this reduce waiting lists for doctors, but diagnosing diseases early also helps keep everyone healthy.