CHECKS FOR BALANCE
Regular readers know how much we value both our mental and physical wellbeing. We have made numerous recommendations with regards to diet, exercise and mental health. There is one aspect of our health which we must not forget: regular health checks. It’s easy to get caught up in our daily routines and forget the importance of these visits.
Get your calendar out and pencil in these few imperative appointments:
PAP SMEAR TEST
Every three years (yes, it has changed) after the age of 18, it is recommended we get a Pap test. This preventive health test checks the cells of the cervix for any changes, abnormalities and for any signs of cervical cancer. These tests aren’t pleasant and for this reason many people delay their visits.
This one is for every man, woman and child regardless of your skin type, especially considering we live in the skin cancer capital of the world. An annual skin check is a must!
Regardless of whether or not you have private health cover, six-monthly dental checks are highly recommended. Ninetynine per cent of the time you will just come out with a glistening white smile after the clean, but there is the chance that what may seem minor to you could be something that leads to serious infection and/or structural changes and pain without treatment.
Do you suffer from headaches or migraines? Do you find you squint and strain to read the computer or street signs? Do you have trouble with depth perception walking on uneven surfaces? These are just a few of the signs that may indicate it’s time for an optometrist checkup. You would be surprised at what some nifty glasses or contacts can do. Hello clarity and goodbye headaches.
Do you have ringing in the ears? Do you struggle to hear in loud restaurants or clubs? Do you often have to ask people to repeat themselves? It took me throwing out three sets of perfectly functioning headphones to realise it was, in fact, my left ear and not the left ear piece that had a problem. Hearing checks are quick and easy and can be done in your GP clinic. In this day and age hearing aids are not what they used to be, and in many cases are so tiny no one would ever know you had them, and there are many subsidies available.
Many of my patients come to me after putting up with pain for weeks, months and even years. More often than not these presentations could have been either fixed or at least drastically improved if they presented at the first niggle. Whether that be a twinge in the lower back every time you rise from your chair, persisting headaches, jaw pain, achy backs after prolonged driving or sitting, catching knees or old stiff ankles, or just generalised discomfort, it is all worth getting an assessment from your physiotherapist before letting it progress into longstanding and/or intense pain.
Depending on your age, sex, comorbidities and overall health, your purpose for your trip to the GP may vary. Make it worth your while to have your vital signs checked; sort out women's and men’s health checks; get your contraception regularly monitored or changed according to your continuously changing hormones and life situations; and have individual issues monitored.
It is so easy for months to turn into years between these very important check-ups — it happens to the best of us. Use this column as a reminder. Come Monday (if you haven’t already) ring around and make these very important appointments. Looking after yourself is not just about what you eat, how much exercise you do, and the state of your mind. It’s also about tuning into your body in these other ways. Your body is your temple. Treat it with respect.