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The Importance of Regular Health Checks

It can be hard finding time in our busy lives to take care of ourselves. Between keeping up with work, friends, family and our usual day-to-day tasks, it’s easy to forget about booking in regular checkups with our GP.

While it may seem that all is well, you never know if there may be an underlying health condition you’re unaware of. So by making sure you have a routine checkup, any health issues can be picked up on and treated before they become a bigger, more serious problem.

Let’s face it: your health is something you should never put off. It really is worthwhile making that effort to ensure you have a clean bill of health.

 

How Often Should I Have a Checkup?

Your age and health status play a large part in how frequently you should have a health check. If you’re under 45 and in good health, you should have a routine checkup every 2 to 3 years, according to Australian Unity.

As you get older, you become more vulnerable to illness. It’s important to acitvely monitor your health as this occurs by booking in more regular checkups. If you’re over 45, you should have a checkup with your doctor every year.

If you have a medical condition that needs to be monitored, your doctor will advise if you’ll need checkups more regularly.

 

What to Expect from a Checkup Appointment

If you’ve never had a regular health check before, you may wonder how this type of appointment is any different to visiting a doctor when you’re feeling sick. The biggest difference between a checkup and seeing a doctor due to illness is the focus on overall health rather than diagnosing and treating a particular condition.

Because a checkup is very broad, a number of areas can be covered to ensure you’re on the right track with your overall health.

 

Physical Examination

When you arrive for your check-up, you can expect a physical examination from your doctor. Some of these examinations include:

  • Listening to your chest
  • Feeling your pulse
  • Thyroid check
  • Blood pressure test
  • Breast check
  • Reflex check
  • Examining your eyes and ears
  • Mole and freckle check
  • BMI test
 

Examine Current Conditions

According to Bupa, a health check from your doctor can also involve examining any conditions you currently have. So basically, you can get treatment for your particular condition and receive a full health check all in one appointment. Don’t miss the opportunity to bring up any currently diagnosed conditions or symptoms with your doctor.

 

Lifestyle Changes

Livestrong also suggest that you should tackle any lifestyle problems that are negatively impacting your health in your check-up appointment. Some of the factors you should address include:

  • Sexual health
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Other substance abuse
  • Weight management

Your doctor can provide professional medical advice in all of these areas, ultimately helping you lead a healthier lifestyle.

 

Treatment & Medical History

After examination, your doctor will advise of any health problems they identified, provide treatment options for those medical issues and prescribe medication if necessary. If any symptoms or medical issues are identified, your medical history will also be updated accordingly.

 

Other Regular Medical Tests

Along with regular health checks with your GP, you should also stay on top of other important screening tests for major life-threatening conditions. Depending on your age and sex, some of the medical tests you should take part in on a regular basis include:

 

Sexual Health Checks 

It’s recommended that women have a Pap smear test every two years to check for cervical cancer. This should take place two years after they are first sexually active. Both men and women should also be tested for STI’s and chlamydia regularly.

 

Skin Cancer Screening

Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world with two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, according to statistics from Allianz. Despite this, 95% of skin cancers can be treated successfully when detected early, so if you’re in the sun regularly, it’s best to keep up with skin cancer checks every year.

 

Colon Cancer Screening

Colon cancer screening is performed via colonoscopy and screening should begin at age 50. If there are risk factors, the screening should be performed every 5 years while healthy individuals with no risk factors only need a screening every 10 years.

 

Bowel Cancer Test

According to Bowel Cancer Australia, testing for bowel cancer should be undertaken ever 1-2 years after the age of 50. The test involved is called a Faecal Immunochemical Test which determines if blood is found in bowel movements.

 

Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is the second largest cause of death due to cancer in Australian men. There is no current recommendation for regular screening, however, if you have a family history or if you believe you have symptoms that match this form of cancer, speak with your doctor about receiving a digital rectal examination.

 

Mammograms

Breast Screen Australia recommends that all women between 50 and 74 years of age should have a mammogram every two years. The test is free. Women between 40 and 49 years also have free access to this screening.

 

Vitamin check

Vitamin deficiency can result in a multitude of health symptoms, and this can be detected easily with a blood test. Often if vitamin deficiency is the cause, vitamin supplements and a change in diet may be all that is needed to get you feeling better again. Your doctor should know which vitamins to test according to your symptoms.

 

Diabetes Test

According to Diabetes Australia, type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia. Diabetes is determined via a blood glucose test, and this test should be carried out every 1-3 years depending on your risk factors.

 

Dental Checkup

Along with having screening tests for cancer and other significant health risks, regular dental checkups are also a must. Your oral hygiene is just as important as your overall health, so it’s best to have a dental checkup at least once a year or as recommended by your dentist.

 

Why Regular Health Checks are Important

So now that we know what a regular health check involves, you probably want to know why it’s so important. Even though you may not enjoy visiting the doctor, especially when you’re feeling well, it’s something that we all need to do.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s vital for everyone to have regular checkups no matter your age, lifestyle or health status. Here are a few reasons why you should keep up with regular doctor appointments:

 

Find Health Problems Early

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. Having health checks is the best way to detect issues before they develop into bigger problems that are harder to fix.

For example, high blood pressure and cholesterol are common health concerns that often go undetected in Australia. 1 in 5 Australians have high blood pressure and 55% of the Australian adult population have high cholesterol. If you have never been tested for these conditions, you may be putting yourself at undue risk of future health issues by potentially allowing them to remain undetected.

 

Live a Longer, Healthier Life

It’s always best to think long term when considering your health. You want to be as healthy as possible as you grow old, and the only way to do that is to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain regular health checks. When you see your doctor regularly, your GP can keep nasty illnesses at bay by making sure you’re leading a healthy lifestyle. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

 

Professional Advice

If you’re experiencing symptoms that concern you or you need advice to lead a healthier life, rather than self-diagnosing over the internet, it’s always best to seek a professional opinion from your doctor. You can’t beat one-on-one, face to face contact with a doctor who has years of knowledge and training behind them in the medical field.

 

Relieve Stress and Worry

If it’s been a long time between checkups, you may have a niggling concern at the back of your mind about your health. Regular health checks will give you peace of mind and you can find out first-hand if you have a clean bill of health.

Worry itself can have a significant impact on your health, so even if your checkup comes back all-clear, the mere act of removing your concern can greatly benefit your overall wellness.

 

Stay on Top of Current Health Problems

If you experience regular health problems or if you have an ailment that requires continual checkups, it’s particularly important for you to keep up with regular health checks. Not only can you get treatment for your condition, but your doctor can also examine other areas of your health and ensure no other problems creep up on you.

 

Reduce your Healthcare Costs

Complicated and long-lasting health conditions can be expensive to treat. Although many people are put off having regular checkups due to the potential costs involved, in the long term, if you have a condition that could have been identified and treated sooner, the costs will end up being far more down the track and the recovery is likely to take much longer.

 

Build a Relationship with Your Doctor

It’s invaluable to have a doctor that you can trust. When you keep up with regular GP visits, your doctor will get to know you, understand your health concerns and determine what treatment is best for you. They will also hold a complete medical history that they can refer to when treating you.

 

Health Insurance Benefits

When purchasing health or life insurance, underwriters will look upon you favourably if you take part in routine checkups. When an insurance company can see that you want to take care of your health, they will see you as less of a risk, and you’re more likely to receive the cover you want at a reasonable premium.

 

Book a Health Check with Your Doctor

Being in good health is one of the most valuable gifts you could have, and the best way to maintain your perfect bill of health is to lock in a regular health check with your GP.

If there are any particular areas of concern that you would like your doctor to check or if there are any tests you would like to be performed, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor during your checkup. After all, you know your body better than anyone so if you’re experiencing any symptoms out of the ordinary, it’s worthwhile getting them checked for your peace of mind.

Even if you think you’re in good health, don’t put off a health check any longer and book in to see your doctor.

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