One of the points stressed on in my Ten Commandments for a Healthy and Enjoyable life is to do REGULAR MEDICAL CHECKS OR SCREENING. This point can never be overemphasized. The hospital is not only for the sick. No matter how much of a healthy life you lead, you could still have a grave medical condition lurking in the shadows and only an early screening could nip it right in the bud.
It is also important that you know diseases in your family since this can assist your doctor to include tests that otherwise may not be routine or may not be necessary at your age. Curiosity may be life-saving!!!
Many of us are scared of the “unknown” and will give ridiculous excuses to escape doing a medical examination. If that is your potion then you are in the majority, but you can give yourself an early “Christmas Gift” in October by doing these basic tests. We will discuss that for women soon but as we all know, the women in our lives tend to cajole us to get these checks done.
These selected examinations are by no means the all-in-all but if you are able to stay faithful to these then you are on your way to an exciting life. Do not let a bad attitude set you back, make a PLEDGE today and have these tests done as soon as possible.
Many of these tests may be necessary at a certain age but depending on one’s risk level (e.g. a family member with a similar disease increases ones risk level), there may be the need to have some tests earlier than the stated age.
- Prostate Cancer
- We need to be screened for this at age 40 (some people propose 45 years). If a close relative had prostate cancer, then it may be advisable to screen as early as 35years. Depending on your age, not all elevated PSA (blood sample required for this test) may be scary.
- Thank God if you get a doctor who sticks his finger through your anus to assess the prostate. It could be life saving and has nothing in common with the terrible sexual preferences pervading our world. This examination is called Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
- Testicular Cancer
- This is not common but can “hide” and cause you distress. Age range when it may normally appear is 20-54 years.
- Self-exam in this case may be a good idea. You may examine your testes (referred to as balls) looking out for hard masses. Your doctor could also examine you occasionally. Great to start by age 20.
- Colorectal Cancer
- Slightly commoner in men than in women and majority of them develop slowly from colon polyps (non cancer growth). It is important we find and remove these polyps before they become cancerous.
- In those with average risk screen from age 50. When the risk is high such as when you have a family member with colon cancer, you may screen much earlier.
- We recommend colonoscopy, where you get the opportunity to look into the colon and may even take out polyps if present. Some people opt for procedures such as CT scan and double contrast barium enema.
- You must have heard a lot about this silent killer. It may be causing harm but you feel perfectly well. You will need to check your blood pressure.
- Since our current “acquired” lifestyles are so terrible, we could start checking our blood pressure by age 20 and probably check at least twice a year even if we find it to be normal.
- Cholesterol Level
- These are notorious for increasing our risk of heart disease. It can cause hardening and narrowing of arteries (blood vessels), which may progress over several years without warning. Our first “notice served” may be a heart attack or a stroke. So this is another silent one. SILENCE it appears may not always be golden.
- Start checking from age 20 and repeat every five years if normal. From 35years, you need to check frequently, yearly is recommended. (I state all these with caution since you may be reading information that is contrary)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Many of us are aware of the complications of diabetes which include heart disease, stroke, blindness, nerve damage, impotence and the list goes on and on. We have the power to avoid these. Do NOT WAIT to experience the unholy triad of drinking lots of water, urinating frequently and in large volumes and eating a lot. You may never experience any of these but you could have diabetes. By age 40 you should have checked and much earlier if you have family members with diabetes.
- I recommend age 20 while you check your cholesterol. After all both are great when done with fasting blood samples. With the advent of glucometres, it takes only a few seconds to know your status.
- Currently, a lot of emphasis is placed on checking for your long term blood sugar control. The test is available so talk to your healthcare professional.
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- December 1st is WORLD AIDS DAY and we can all make a pledge to know our HIV status by that day. It is great to know your status, either way you are better off. If positive you can seek appropriate help and if negative you lead an appropriate life to avoid it.
- Modern treatments can keep HIV infection from becoming AIDS.
- This group of eye diseases gradually damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness.
- Screen for abnormally high pressure within the eye. For those less than 40 years screen every 2 to 4 years and increase the frequency as you grow and by 65 years it should be as often as twice a year.
- In high risk men (includes those with previous eye injury, steroid use and family members with glaucoma), it is recommended that you check your eye pressures more often.
What can one do with all the above information? Talk to your healthcare professional and together you can have the appropriate screening at the ideal time. Remember “YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR RESPONSIBILTY; TAKE CONTROL” and even if you have the right attitude you cannot take control if you lack the knowledge or information.
It is refreshing to know that exercising regularly and eating appropriately can reduce your risk for most of the conditions above.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/St Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “Washing your hands with soap and water is a DO-IT-YOURSELF “vaccine”. It can save your life. Just do it!”
- The Ten Commandments for a Healthy and Enjoyable Life – Dr Kojo Cobba Essel