Periodic Checkups

Our health is a gift requiring care and attention. It is closely linked to a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition, physical exercise, avoiding smoking, maintaining weight, and undergoing periodic checkups and other healthy living habits.

Periodic checkups are essential medical tests and examinations that every individual should undergo regularly, regardless of their health status.

The nature and frequency of these checkups are influenced by various factors such as age, gender, health condition, and family medical history influence.

 The Importance of Periodic Checkups

Periodic checkups are not just medical tests but an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. They provide an opportunity to understand family medical history and current lifestyle choices, and their importance can be categorised as follows:

1) Identifying potential health issues by evaluating the information provided to the doctor and analyzing test results to detect health problems before symptoms appear.

This ensures early diagnosis crucial in reducing the severity of illnesses, enhancing treatment success, and reducing treatment costs for conditions that could escalate if not detected early.

2) Contributing to regular monitoring of current health problems, reducing the risk of symptom exacerbation or severe complications, and aiding in identifying physical impairments for proper rehabilitation.

3) Supporting healthy planning to maintain health and fitness by understanding lifestyle changes necessary for a healthy life. For example, patients can collaborate with their doctor to create a plan to achieve goals like losing weight or quitting smoking. If a patient is taking specific medications, the doctor can assess their effectiveness and the need for dosage adjustments.

Periodic Checkups

Periodic checkups are recommended every two years for individuals aged 18 and above. However, they may be conducted annually if risk factors or medical history indicate the need, or as determined by the specialist doctor. These checkups include:

Physical measurements: including height, weight, waist circumference, and body mass index calculation, which can indicate future risks for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.

Blood sugar test: measures blood sugar levels after an overnight fast of 8 hours, crucial for detecting diabetes, which can have severe complications.

Blood pressure measurement: high blood pressure levels raise the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol Test: helps identify the ratio between harmful cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL). LDL cholesterol is a type of high-density lipoprotein found in the blood that can deposit in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis when its levels exceed the normal range.

Complete blood count test: determines haemoglobin levels and detects various diseases like anaemia and cancer.

Other tests: such as Vitamin D, thyroid function, or gender-specific tests, which are vital for maintaining women’s or men’s health.

Periodic Checkups for Women

Breast Examination

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women. Early detection significantly improves recovery chances. Breast examinations include:

Monthly self-examination

Clinical examination by a specialist

Mammogram screening every two years for women aged 40 and above, or annually if they have risk factors or a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Cervical Smear Test

The cervical smear test is essential for the early detection of cervical cancer, contributing to improved prevention and treatment, with increased chances of recovery. This test is recommended for women aged 25 to 65, every three years for those aged 25 to 29, and every five years for those aged 30 to 65. Females aged 13 to 26 should receive the HPV vaccine to prevent this cancer.

Bone Density Test

Osteoporosis primarily affects women after the age of 50 due to factors like pregnancy and childbirth, leading to bone density loss and fractures. DEXA bone density test is necessary for women aged 60 and above, or earlier if menopause occurs or risk factors are present, as determined by the specialist doctor.

Periodic Checkups for Men

Regular checkups are crucial for identifying potential health issues in men, particularly after the age of 50, to prevent and treat conditions early. Key checkups include:

Colonoscopy: vital for early colon cancer detection and may be conducted before the age of 50 if risk factors or symptoms are present, as per the specialist doctor’s evaluation.

Prostate-specific antigen test: a blood test for early prostate cancer detection.

In conclusion, periodic checkups help alleviate anxiety and concerns patients may have about symptoms. Discussing these concerns with a specialist doctor effectively aids in understanding the root cause of health issues, reduces stress, and enhances preventive and treatment opportunities.

By: Dr. Badreyya Al-Harmi, Consultant Public Health, Emirates Public Health Association

Al Jundi

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