PREVENT DISEASE, DON´T JUST TREAT IT
Today, smart health providers are shifting their focus from treating disease after it arises, to preventing it in the first place. At the same time, routine tests at the appropriate age can help you stay healthy for life.
What’s involved in a woman’s health check?
Your GP will take a thorough medical history and, depending on your age and stage of life, will suggest checks and tests.
They may consider:
• Assessing pelvic floor function including urinary incontinence – especially important for women who have had babies or post-menopausal women who may be losing pelvic tone;
• STI screening/counselling if you are sexually active or have been;
• A pap smear if it’s due – suggested for women 25 to 74 every two years, although this time period may soon lengthen;
• A breast examination.
They may also offer you a blood test to check Full Blood Count, Renal and Liver Function and Iron Studies. Often younger women who are menstruating, or women who have a mainly vegetarian diet, may find that they are short of iron. A shortage of iron can also be an indicator of other health conditions.
What checks are right for my age?
If you are over 50, or have a strong family history of breast cancer, your GP will suggest a mammogram. A free, screening mammogram is recommended every two years for women aged 50 to 74.
Your GP will also offer you a bowel screening test. All Australians who are 50 to 74 are eligible for a free bowel cancer screening kit and, from 2020, will be offered this every two years.
Checking cholesterol to make sure it is at optimal levels for heart health, and levels of Vitamin D – essential for bone health as well as immunity – are also suggested for over 50s.
What’s involved in a men’s health check?
Men can be more reluctant to see their doctor. But early, preventive tests can mean that any small issues are picked up before they become difficult to treat. So, it’s a good idea to have a regular health check with their GP.
As well as taking a full medical history, your GP may suggest:
• A Full Blood Count to check general health including vitamin and mineral levels;
• Renal and Liver Function tests;
• Iron Studies especially if your diet is inadequate;
• STI screening/counselling, if you are sexually active or have been.
What checks are right for my age?
For men over 50, a blood test to check cholesterol that can lead to heart function problems, a check on levels of Vitamin D that is essential to bone health and immunity, and bowel screening – especially if you have a significant family history of the disease – may be appropriate.
Note that all Australians who are 50 to 74 are also eligible for a free bowel cancer screening kit and, from 2020, will be offered this every two year.
Older men may also discuss urinary incontinence or difficulties with urinary stream or erectile dysfunction with their GP and he or she may conduct a prostate examination or suggest a PSA (prostate blood test) to pick up any early signs of abnormalities.
Over 70s should also have a Bone Mineral Density test checking for osteoporosis.
What other tests can help men and women stay healthy
You may also like to take advantage of other proactive, preventive tests to keep your body in good shape for as long as you can.
For example, if you don’t know how to eat for health, a dietary review can help you. Your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as phytochemicals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and proteins to function every minute of every day. A Full Blood Count will also give you an idea of how you are tracking with your vitamin and mineral levels.
Measuring body composition; fitness, flexibility and strength; blood glucose, lung function and blood pressure will give you an idea of how you’re generally looking after yourself and what you can do to improve your stamina and health.
There is now a selection of other tests that can help you monitor your health and improve it. These include checking your vision (short, long and colour), an electrocardiogram (ECG) to see that your heart is healthy, a skin examination to detect and prevent skin cancer, and a bone mineral density test to help prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Talk to your Cape Byron GP about your health concerns so they can tailor the right health check for you.