By Enyeribe Ejiogu
The year 2017 has rolled into today. It brings with it a carry over of the recession in the country. Expectedly, there is an upping of the pressure on the average Nigeria to just to survive but succeed and have a reasonable good life. For both men and women, it is vital to have good health to be able to pursue personal goals that ultimately lead to success in any endeavour. On the average, women tend to take better care of their health than men.
A woman is more likely to go to see a doctor if she notices any signs in her body. Men are more likely to just ignore the signs and trudge on.
A man is more likely to drive his car to his mechanic to check out the funny sound he heard as he drove out from the house.
In essence men get their cars tuned regularly, change the engine oil and plugs, visit the car wash and generally keep their cars sparkling clean. But visit a doctor for a health check? Nooooo, not the average man! “Our busy lives and work schedules often prevent us from seeking routine preventive care,” says Robert W. Brenner, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of the Preventive Medicine Program at New Jersey-based Summit Medical Group. “But evidence-based preventive medicine is cost-effective and reduces the risk of illness and disease.”
“Cars get routine check-ups. So do planes,” adds Daniel Cosgrove, MD, Medical Director of the WellMax Center in La Quinta, California. “But for our bodies, the most precious thing we have, we wait for symptoms. And unfortunately, most diseases are far advanced by the time one gets symptoms.”
Based on your individual health conditions, your doctor will determine which tests you should have, and how often to have them, but in general, the medical exams suggested below will help keep your body as a finely tuned machine throughout your life.
Now that you are in your 20s
You need to have an annual physical exam by your family doctor, who will check your blood pressure, measure your height and weight and determine your body-mass index (BMI). He will send for screening for testicular cancer, and also teach you how to do monthly self-exams. He will also test your cholesterol level (this test must be repeated after five years.)
Depending on your individual circumstances, your doctor may want to do an electrocardiogram to check for heart disease, and blood tests to screen for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anaemia.
Again, depending on risk factors, your doctor may also recommend screening for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV infection, and alcohol abuse.
As you step into the 30s
Now that you have stepped into your 30s, you still need to repeat the tests you did in your 20s.
But beyond those tests, you must necessarily undergo vision examination, to enable your doctor pick up early signs of problems in the eyes. You should also get screened for coronary heart disease, especially if you come from a family with strong history and/or risk factors for cardiac diseases.
Life in the swinging 40s
Your first set of medical tests, expectedly, would be the routine blood pressure as well as height and weight checks. In fact you should by now be familiar with how to determine your BMI. Then of course, you have to do screening for testicular cancer.
Similarly, find out your cholesterol level, which give an indication of the risk of other systemic problems.
The doctor would also ask you to have an electrocardiogram to check for heart disease, and blood tests to screen for thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia. Now this very important: you must check for early signs of prostate problems, now that you are in the 40s. You should also do diabetes screening, and repeat it every three years. If the test proves negative, and you have passed 45 years, it should be repeated after three years.
Depending on the risk factors, for instance, if you are smoker, your doctor may also recommend screening for oral cancer. He would also conduct routine check for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), vision examination and screen you for coronary heart disease, if you come from a with strong family history and/or risk factors.
In the golden 50s and 60s
With the advancement of age, the human body needs more care just like an aging car. Beyond the now routine tests, such as annual physical examination, regular blood pressure check, BMI monitoring, testicular cancer check, cholesterol check, you need to have an annual screen for Type II diabetes.
Again as noted earlier, your risk factors will determine whether you should be screened oral cancer and other soft tissues cancers and STDs.
Now that you are in mid life, you need to undergo screening for lipid disorders, have an annual electrocardiogram, vision and hearing examinations, screening for prostate and colon cancer (with fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy at age 50.
And of course, your doctor will screen for coronary heart disease, particularly if you come from a family with a strong history of cardiac conditions and/or risk factors. He will also screen you for abdominal aortic aneurysm, and carry out carotid artery ultrasound screening, vision and hearing examinations.
He will check you for osteoporosis and screen for lung cancer – depending on the risk factors peculiar to your situation. He would continue colorectal screening based upon previous studies and results.
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