Be happy, healthy and wise

Nadine Wilson

Monday, December 31, 2012

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START the New Year off on good footing by visiting your doctor for a complete check-up. Doing so will make you feel more at ease as you can begin to eliminate some of the health concerns you might have had throughout 2012.

You can cut costs by visiting your nearest clinic to undergo some of these examinations, but if you can afford it, make an appointment to meet with your doctor today. These medical routines are important, no matter whether you are young or old, so don't delay, start making the necessary arrangements as soon as possible.

1. Test for sexually transmitted diseases. You can arrange for your doctor to meet with you and your partner so you can get tested for a range of sexually transmitted diseases. Some sexually transmitted diseases have no symptoms, but if left untreated, they could eventually affect your sexual health and well-being. In some cases, they can even cause death. Gynaecologist Dr Charles Rockhead said whether long-term or short-term, couples should ensure that they both get tested for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), syphillis, herpes and Hepatitis B. "I always am going to recommend testing, in particular HIV testing and testing for STDs, [and] there are other testings that are of benefit too," said the doctor.

2. Do your pap smear. It is important that you do an annual pelvic exam if you are sexually active or over 21 years old. This will help a doctor determine changes in the cells of the cervix that could result in cervical cancer. "The pap smear or cervical smear is an extremely important test for women to do regularly even if they are not currently sexually active," said obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Sharmaine Mitchell. If detected early, cervical cancer can be cured, so that you can save yourself thousands of dollars in trying to secure cancer treatment later on in life.

3. Get a mammogram. Screen for breast abnormalities by setting aside a date to get a mammogram done. This is extremely important if you are over 40 years old, because you are at increased risk for breast cancer. Detecting cancer from early can help you save your breasts, since localised cancers can be removed without getting a mastectomy.

4. Get your eyes tested. Annual eye testing is very important, as it helps to correct vision problems and even reveal the warning signs of more serious undiagnosed medical issues. The quality of your eyesight can affect your productivity and can even prevent accidents caused by night time blindness.

5. Blood pressure measurement. Hypertension is very common among women, so testing your blood sugar level is very important, no matter what age you are. Maintaining your blood pressure level could prevent other health problems such as heart disease and preeclampsia. "It is important for women with a history of preeclampsia in previous pregnancies or hypertension to have regular and early antenatal care in a high-risk clinic, should they become pregnant again," said Dr Karen Lewis-Bell, director of Family Health Services at the Ministry of Health. Once hypertension is determined early, you can make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle with your doctor's help.

6. BMI and waist circumference measurement. A healthy body mass index (BMI) can range from anywhere between 18 to 24 inches. It is your BMI that will determine whether you are obese and therefore at risk for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and kidney problems.

7. Dental check-up. Poor dental and gum health can lead to other problems such as heart disease. Paying a visit to your dentist can also help to boost your confidence in the New Year, by getting you closer to having super white teeth and a beautiful smile.

8. Cholesterol test. If you have diabetes, hypertension, are obese or have kidney problems, you will need to be monitored regularly for cholesterol problems. You still need to check your cholesterol even if you have none of these conditions, since cholesterol in the blood doesn't often result in symptoms.




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