Posted on 19 June 2014
A few simple (regular) tests will help keep you on a solid self-health path, says Dr Francois Swart, a GP at Mediclinic Ermelo.
Where does it hurt?
We can’t all afford to go to the dermatologist, gynaecologist, dentist, optometrist and proctologist every year. But at least make an annual appointment with your doctor – even if you’re feeling healthy and nothing hurts! Your GP will be able to pick up when something isn’t right and will refer you to the appropriate specialist if necessary. Dr Swart notes that various factors combine to make each patient unique, such as age, gender, ethnicity, habits, previous medical history and current state of health. But despite that, there are some basic health markers that should be checked at least once a year: from blood pressure and blood-sugar levels to a Pap smear.
Your optometrist keeps an eye on your health
Optometrists are trained not just to pick up vision defects but also to spot symptoms in the eye that are a sign of serious diseases elsewhere in the body. In an eye test, for example, they are often the first to pick up diabetes. The blood vessels in the eye are very delicate and are often affected by diabetes. Hypertension, too, can show up in an eye test! (Read more about what your eyes could be telling you about your health here.
In South Africa, with our year-round, plentiful (and strong) sunshine, we are particularly susceptible to sun-exposure damage to our skin. And unfortunately, these skin cancers are not only unsightly; left untreated, they can grow and silently invade deeper body tissue. To prevent this spread, it’s important to see a dermatologist – at least once a year, recommends the Cancer Association of South Africa – and have those blemishes, lesions, funny-looking warts or discoloured patches tested. Treatment is swift and efficient, so don’t postpone your check-up.
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