Last week we began to look at the importance of regular health checks with your family doctor. The periodic health check is an ideal time for your family doctor to offer highly beneficial preventive health service. This is one time that the famous quite “ Prevention is better than cure” stands true.
Contrary to popular belief and fears, it is not a time for worry or anxiety about what the doctor might find to be wrong. It is indeed a time for the doctor to deliver some very useful advice and reduce your worry or anxiety about your state of health. Many times, certain observations you make that cause you worry, may not actually amount to anything when thoroughly investigated by your doctor. The best thing therefore is to visit a reputable family doctor to get checked out.
In my practice, I have quite often come across individuals who would say they have seen a doctor for some nonspecific complaints, the doctor did ‘ALL’ the blood tests and they didn’t find ‘ANYTHING’ and the individuals continue to worry that they still feel unwell and they have no answers. Quite often, a periodic health check is a better way to address such situations. This is because during this special health check, many more tests as well as other corrective interventions are offered that are not usually obtained in a regular doctor visit.
So what exactly do you expect when you go for a periodic health assessment with a family physician? The periodic health assessment is a deliberate exercise to look at the total person, do risk assessment, offer immunizations where indicated, screen for known diseases and educate on several health related issues. The corner stone of the periodic health assessment is the detailed history taking of all your symptoms, looking at your lifestyle especially as it affects your health, detailed history taking of your families health, your full physical examination. This is usually followed by carefully tailored tests and investigations, timely and innovative individualized interventions to promote your health and wellbeing. The other good thing about periodic health assessment is the time spent on health education, answering all the health and wellness questions bugging your mind.
There are many health conditions that if diagnosed early, can be completely cured. The word ‘CANCER’ often conjures deep fears in whom ever the sad news is given. There is increasing numbers of cancer cases diagnosed globally and the cancer scare is now at its highest since the beginning of times. It is sometimes possible to prevent cancer or indeed cure it completely once accurate diagnosis is obtained at your periodic health assessment. Early tailored intervention in these cases can bring about disease reversal. The announcement of the death of Professor Dora Akunyili OFR who was the Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and former Nigerian Minister for Information and Communication last week from cancer of the uterus is yet another reminder that these diseases prevail among us here in Nigeria. Long gone is the notion that cancer is a disease of the white race. We now know that cancer is no respecter of race, class, age or creed. It affects anyone, rich or poor. We will recall that we have had so many notable people who have died of cancer including Mrs Mariam Babangida and Chief Gani Fawehinmi. One of the things that would be fully addressed during your periodic health check is the various known causative factors of cancer and preventive measures that have been found to be very effective.
We have routinely diagnosed hypertension (Sustained High Blood pressure) through periodic health assessment. Hypertension like so many other diseases could exist without obvious symptoms. So except the blood pressure is deliberately checked, an individual could be walking around without realizing that he has hypertension and therefore at increased risk of heart attack or kidney disease.
We believe that patient education is a very valuable aspect of disease prevention. Therefore during your visit to the doctor, a lot of emphasis is placed on risk factor identification in order to tailor educational messages about the lifestyle changes you need to make. Screening for cancer of the prostate, and cancer of the colon are offered during this visit. Apart from cancer screening, screening for infections such as HIV, SYPHILLIS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are also offered. Fasting blood samples would be required for other screening tests such as Type 2 Diabetes and high cholesterol. Blood would also be tested for full blood picture, liver function tests, kidney function and other relevant blood chemistry. Urine and stool samples will also be required for screening of common conditions. Your doctor will usually explain fully what every sample would be testing for.
Health education and effective counseling can be given in other areas such as smoking cessation, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, promotion of dental and oral health, sleep advice, advice on unintentional injury prevention, domestic violence prevention, (or help where this already exists) , relationship advice, nutrition education, physical activity education, sexually transmitted illnesses, HIV and unintended pregnancy prevention and lots more.
It is note worthy that a strong partnership in your clinical management should be encouraged between you and your doctor. You should feel empowered and be involved in decision making particularly when making decisions about interventions that might be advised by your health team. Timely visit to your doctor for periodic health check can ultimately reduce anxiety and worry, provide highly needed and beneficial health information, set you on a path to life long lifestyle modifications that could bring about disease reversal or disease prevention. This could in turn prolong a healthy, happy and productive life.
So make an appointment today to see your Family Doctor and if you do not have a Family Doctor, please register yourself and the rest of your family in a clinic or hospital near you. Do your best to keep your follow up appointments so that you can get the full benefit of the agreed interventions. Encourage a man today to do a health check. You could save a life by doing so
For Further information about Men’s periodic health check do not hesitate to contact the author.