Important Tests Your Doctor Can Run to Determine Your State of Health
Important Tests Your Doctor Can Run to Determine Your State of Health
Going to the doctor is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. By getting some fairly simple tests done, it can help your doctor determine whether or not you’re as healthy as you should be. You can avoid many common issues that can hurt your long term health if you know how to take care of them now.
Checking Blood Pressure
Having your blood pressure tested at your doctor’s office is a fairly routine test. But it’s an important one. Your blood pressure can be one of the determining factors to your heart health.
However, it can also be an indication of something much simpler and far less dangerous than a problem with your heart. High blood pressure can mean a variety of things. When it’s elevated, it can mean that your diet consists of foods that contain too much salt.
Overuse of salt makes your body hold onto fluids. That raises your blood pressure. If your doctor catches this and you reduce your salt intake, it’s better for your heart in the years to come.
Your doctor can do a blood pressure check and compare it to other blood pressure tests that you’ve had done in the past. This will give him an overall picture of how well (or not) you’re doing physically.
Some things can make your blood pressure go up besides salt. One of these is smoking. When you smoke, it increases your chances of having a heart related health problem.
It might surprise you to discover that drinking too much alcohol can also make your blood pressure rise, too. Not getting the right amount sleep can cause a rise in blood pressure and so can sleep problems such as sleep apnea.
If you don’t exercise regularly or if you’re carrying more weight than you should, these can also make your blood pressure abnormal. Both short term and chronic stress can give you an elevated reading and so can crossing your legs while your pressure is being checked.
If you’re relatively healthy, there’s not a problem with an elevated reading every now and then. It’s only when the pressure reads high on a consistent basis that it can mean something more serious is going on.
Since a higher blood pressure has been linked to kidney, adrenal and thyroid malfunction, as well, it’s always best to make sure you get it checked regularly and maybe even get a small machine at home to check at various times.
Why Your Doctor Needs to Check Your Eyes and Ears
Your family physician will routinely exam your eyes when you come in for a visit. The test he’s performing is a simple one to determine if any potential health issues are being revealed through your eyes.
When he looks into your eyes, if he notices that your inner eyelids are more pale than pink that’s a clue that you could have anemia. Blurred vision, a heavy feeling in your eyes, and chronic irritation can be a sign that your glucose level is out of control.
Heaviness and itching can be a sign of chronic dry eye. Your doctor checks for this because chronic dry eye can lead to corneal scarring. The doctor checks your eyes to look for things like signs of STD or ocular herpes, which can be visible as redness and irritation on the eye.
Many people mistakenly assume redness, irritation or itching is simply allergies. Since herpes can cause blindness, it’s important that your doctor checks your eyes. Your doctor checks your ears because sometimes you can get a wax build up and may not realize it.
Some of the signs of that are ringing in the ears, itching and dizziness. The reason that the doctor checks your ears when you go in for treatment for a cough is because that’s also one of the signs of earwax build up.
He also checks for any problems with the ear - such as fluid or changes in your hearing.
Besides checking things such as your blood pressure, eyes and ears, the doctor will check your blood to see what’s going on inside your body.
The CBC and Other Blood Tests
A complete blood count or CBC test can tell you a lot about your overall health. Even when you feel great, you might have some issues going on. Checking your blood is one of the quickest and easiest ways for your doctor to have a peek at what’s going on inside your body.
Most CBC tests are done for preventative reasons. The faster the doctor picks up on anything that’s off, the faster you can get treated for it. This test will check your platelets and your red and white blood cells.
The results can show the condition of your blood cells. The doctor looks for things like inflammation, infections, anemia and sometimes he can check to see if there are certain antibodies present.
When you have this test done, it can show if you’re dealing with something that’s easy to fix such as dehydration or a vitamin deficiency. But it an also show if you’re dealing with something more serious.
This blood test will let him know what your cholesterol range is as well. It’ll show the level of your good cholesterol as well as your bad cholesterol. This can help him see if you need to change the way that you eat to either lower the bad or raise the good cholesterol.
Some people think this is a test for those who are 40 and over, but you should get this test done in your 20s in order to determine your health. Your doctor will also know when he looks at the range of your blood test results how your overall health is doing.
Changes in your blood cells that are outside the normal range would mean you’d have to have more testing. Usually, what the doctor is looking are noticeable cell changes such as the production of too many red blood cells - which can signify a problem with the heart.
Your doctor may also check your A1C. This would be done if you’re having symptoms of diabetes, such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, sores that are slow to heal or numbness in your fingers or lips.
Routine checks of your A1C can often head off diabetes before it develops if it’s caught in the pre-diabetic stage. A blood test your doctor may conduct is a thyroid stimulating test to see how your thyroid is functioning.
Sometimes doctors routinely order a liver panel if you’re taking medication that can impact the health of your liver. If you’re a woman and have reached a certain age, your doctor might do a blood test to see if you’re in menopause.
The reason for this is because menopause can mimic other health conditions. When menopause hits, you may experience weight gain, thinning hair, skin dryness and moodiness. Those symptoms are also related to thyroid problems, so to rule out one or the other, your doctor may routinely test for this.
Important Medical Tests for Women
Starting at a certain age, your doctor should routinely examine you for certain health issues that need to be checked. For women, this means having a pap smear done. While some women use an OB/GYN, your family doctor can also perform this test if you feel comfortable.
This test is one that checks to make sure that you don’t have any issues with your cervix and other issues involving your reproductive health. This test should be performed when you become sexually active.
Guidelines recommend that women have this test done every 3 years until they reach the age of 65. During the pap smear exam, the doctor will check to make sure that there are no signs of an STD since some people are asymptomatic.
When you have a pap smear done, your doctor can also check your breast health. In addition to self exam, getting doctor screened breast exams may help them spot any changes quicker.
While the recommended screening for getting a mammogram done starts at the age of 50, if you have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may order one sooner. A common test for women that your doctor may do is an abdominal check.
This involves the doctor gently pushing down on your abdomen. He’s checking for anything out of the ordinary. This might be something like a hard abdomen versus a soft one or lumps that could be ovarian cysts. You may also get a routine urinalysis. This test can check for urinary tract infections as well as the performance of your kidneys.
Important Medical Tests for Men
Getting these routine tests done can help your doctor understand your current health as well as determine the possible implications to your health if a problem is uncovered. Your doctor will want to perform certain tests that can pinpoint possible health conditions that are more common among men.
He’ll want to check your heart health because men are twice as likely as women are to develop health problems with the heart. And they’re twice as likely to die of a heart attack than women are.
The doctor may want you to have a blood pressure check sitting, standing and lying down. He may also test your blood pressure readings more often if you have borderline readings.
Blood tests to check your cholesterol level as well as one to test for diabetes may also be ordered. More often than not, these are simply screening tests. Your doctor is trying to be proactive in order to get ahead of any potential problems.
If you’re overweight and a smoker, your doctor may also perform an EKG. This test will determine the performance of your heart. It can show what your heart rhythm is as well as point out anything that’s abnormal with your heart.
If there is a problem, your doctor may order a prolonged EKG which is known as a Holter Monitor. For any test results that show you’re at risk for heart health problems, your doctor might prescribe a change in habits for you.
He may suggest that you give up smoking and change the way you eat if your diet isn’t one that’s heart healthy. Another common test for men that your doctor may run is a DRE - also known as a digital rectal exam.
This is a routine test that checks men for prostate cancer. He may also perform a test for testicle lumps or ask you if you’ve noticed any during self exams. Because it’s a fact that men are more likely than women to have health issues with their lungs, your doctor will listen to your breathing through the stethoscope.
If he hears anything out of the ordinary, he may send you for a lung x-ray - especially if you smoke. A urinalysis done for men is performed to check for the bacteria that can cause urethritis. Though it’s less common in men than among women, a man can still get UTIs. Screening through urinalysis can help the doctor work to prevent future health problems.
Your doctor may perform a BMI test. This is a screening that checks body mass index. By determining what your BMI is, your doctor can tell how healthy you currently are and what your odds of developing future health problems will be.
If your test is higher than 24.9, you’re considered overweight. If your BMI results show that you’re at 30 or over, you’re considered obese. The higher your BMI, the higher your disease risk is.
When you have a high BMI result, it can affect your entire body, which is one reason many doctors calculate a patient’s range. It can cause problems with your blood pressure.
A high BMI can mean that your heart health is at risk. Many people who have a BMI that’s out of the normal range also have high cholesterol, which can lead to the narrowing of blockages in the arteries.
It also means that you’re at a higher risk for developing diabetes. When you have an unhealthy BMI, it can also cause issues such as back and joint pain. It may also mean that you’re getting less than the best sleep.
Being overweight often causes insomnia - plus it can impact your immune system. When you carry more weight than you should, it can make your endocrine system work harder than it should. You may also experience problems with things like rashes and skin inflammations due to moisture build up in areas where there is excess skin.
Testing Your Skin
One of the tests that a doctor may run to determine your state of health is to check your skin. There’s a good reason for this. Your skin is often the first outward sign that there may be health issues going on.
Most people think that skin cancer is a condition that only occurs when you’re older. But thanks to unprotected time spent in the sun as well as use of tanning beds, skin cancer has become more common in people as early as in their twenties.
More men than women will have an occurrence of skin cancer. They’re also less likely than women to seek early intervention when a spot occurs on the skin or a mole changes color or consistency.
Your family doctor can often be the first person to notice unusual changes on your skin that may be cancerous. Another thing the health of your skin might point to is diabetes. People who have diabetes can often have changes in their skin’s texture.
There can be rashes around the ankles or a rash than rings around the neck. Excessive skin tags can also be a sign of diabetes - so can itchy skin, frequent skin infections and numerous raised, red bumps.
Your doctor will check your skin for signs of darkening. This can be a sign that there’s a problem with your adrenal function. Another reason the doctor performs skin examinations is because swollen blood vessels with a noticeable center can be an indication of liver problems.
It’s always good to have your doctor run the various tests that not only confirm whether or not there’s a problem going on, but also gives them a base line to gauge future test results against to see how your body is changing over time.